Grassroots Groups Rally To Control Health Care Costs

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Many health care experts say the U.S. will not wrestle down health care spending unless consumers jump into the debate. But explaining the wonky world of health care finance is tough, even in the medical mecca of Boston.

That’s not stopping two grassroots groups that played a key role in passing the state’s health coverage law. On Sunday night they held their first rally on health care spending at a church in Roxbury.

“Will you join me in this effort? Will you rise up tonight and say it’s time to get busy, it’s time to go into action, it’s time to believe we can change this state now? We can change the nation one more time!” said Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, the president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Association.

“We need a long-term solid fix, and we need it quickly.”

– Rev. Hurmon Hamilton

On WBUR’s Morning Edition Monday, Hamilton said that “what this is about is organizing hundreds and hundreds of our leaders who are in fact the consumers and the patients, and essentially putting enormous pressure on the legislative process to try to make sure that we have a long-term fix legislatively by the end of this year to the extraordinary rise of health care premiums. That has to stop and has to stop now.”

Citing a report from the attorney general, Hamilton says that part of the problem is that hospitals have free reign to set prices at whatever they choose, and thus there is great variation in price. He suggested that someone needs to ensure that “prices being set for certain services make sense.”

Hamilton’s group has set five benchmarks for successful reform. These benchmarks include: consumer involvement in payment reform decisions; structuring payments to encourage check-ups and proactive health care; promoting public health; and transparent, accountable payment oversight.

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