SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 10, 2013

Hospital chiefs outline health care strategies

(Continued)

Norton said the state, which has about 97 percent of people covered by health insurance, has gotten off to an early start on these health care reforms, so it may be “buffered” from some of the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act and expanded coverage.

Not even Norton could say how much these reforms might impact premiums.

“It’s still a mystery to me, and I’ll bet it’s a mystery to many of you,” Norton said, “of how that ties back to what you pay in terms of your premiums ... and that’s beyond my pay grade.”

While the state has excellent health care and costs are coming down, Grant said the Bay State offers some of the most expensive medical care in the nation. The problem, Grant said, is that 30 percent of Bay Staters head to expensive teaching hospitals in downtown Boston, compared with 15 percent of those who head to teaching hospitals in other states. Keeping care close to home will keep costs down, Grant said.

Grant urged employers and employees to be actively engaged in controlling costs and improving quality, and that Lahey would be eager to work with employers to contain costs through “wellness strategies.”

Notable during yesterday’s talk was the fact there were only two hospital chiefs on the dais instead of three, as had been the case in the past. The former president of the old Northeast Health System, Ken Hanover, resigned this past fall. Last year, Lahey Clinic, which has hospitals in Burlington and Peabody, merged with Northeast, the parent of Beverly Hospital, Beverly Hospital at Danvers, Addison Gilbert in Gloucester and Northeast Behavioral Health services, among other facilities and programs. Grant said he is no longer supposed to refer to Northeast Health.

“It is Lahey Health, effective this week,” said Grant, who said the local hospitals will retain their identities.

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