The Quality and Cost Council met yesterday.
The meeting included an overview of the new and improved “My Health Care Options” website. Among other updates and changes, the site now includes quality data on medical groups in Massachusetts. This data is provided through MA Health Quality Partners.
EOHHS Secretary Bigby gave a presentation with an overview of the changes to the QCC mandated under the recently-passed small business insurance legislation. The changes include: the size of the QCC will increase from 16 to 19 seats, with the addition of a seat for a small business representative, a seat for a large business representative, and a practicing physician; the QCC will become an independent public entity, though it can request staffing and other assistance from EOHHS; the Chair and 4 additional members of an Executive Committee will be elected annually; the QCC must have an executive director; and the QCC is now required to gather information on quality improvement efforts and provide that information to the public while still being able to recommend legislative or regulatory changes if needed to further implement quality improvement initiatives.
There was a question from one QCC member as to how the QCC can be an independent entity when it has no budget of its own and is relying on funding from DHCFP. Secretary Bigby said there would have to be work done by the Governance Committee to figure out this and the other changes. Secretary Bigby also updated the group on the formation of a committee on the status of payment reform legislation. QCC and QCC Advisory Committee members have been invited to join this committee.
Finally, Dr. Ken Sands presented as a representative of the Expert Panel on Mortality Reporting. The expert panel was tasked with recommending a measure to use for publicly reporting overall hospital mortality rates (as opposed to condition-specific mortality rates). A team of academic researchers examined a number of methodologies over a period of months and was unable to recommend one methodology that was shown to be reliable and valid. So the expert panel recommended against publicly reporting mortality rates at this time and encouraged the QCC to continue reporting on condition-specific mortality rates. The QCC accepted this recommendation and the suggestion that work continue to inform the public of mortality rates and to encourage hospitals to look at their mortality rates and how they can continue to improve quality of care.
-Deborah W. Wachenheim