Massachusetts Aims For Healthcare Cost Containment With Grants


Massachusetts and Vermont have both announced separate grant programs aimed at bringing down the cost curve in healthcare. Both programs could serve as templates for other states working to keep costs down as insurance rates, new drugs, and new devices can mean rising costs for patients.

Massachusetts is spending $2 million in a grant program to train health care workers. The funding will go to 51 organizations across the state to begin assessing how to prepare health care workers for the careers of the 21st century economy. Chapter 224 health care cost containment legislation allocated $20 million to prepare the health care industry for the new demands and innovations called for in the legislation.

CivSource has previously reported on some of the new challenges facing healthcare workers that were previously outside the scope of their work. Specifically, medical devices newly connected to the internet can pose a threat to the security of patient data if healthcare workers maintain the default settings of the machine instead of using strong passwords. Other examples include reticence on the part of doctors to integrate electronic health records quickly and comprehensively.

Massachusetts award recipients may partner with hospitals, community centers and educational institutions to create new service delivery models and determine what workforce skills and training are necessary for today’s workers. Last week, Governor Patrick launched the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund (PWTF). Also part of Chapter 224 health care cost containment legislation, this first-in-the-nation effort provides more than $40 million in grants to nine community-based partnerships over four years to help fight chronic illness and improve health outcomes while reducing health care costs. The Fund supports community-based partnerships in achieving measurable health goals through research-based interventions.

The goals of the fund are to reduce rates of the most prevalent and preventable health conditions, advance healthy behaviors, increase the adoption of workplace wellness or health management programs and address health disparities.

In Vermont, the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project (VHCIP) announced the award of eight grants totaling more than $2.6 million to health care innovators around the state. The grants are aimed at reducing health care costs by supporting projects that change how health care providers and their patients work together to prevent illness, manage chronic disease, and improve services.

Projects include a collaboration among healthcare providers to create comprehensive long term care plans for seriously ill patients with complex needs; plans for outreach and care to local “at risk” populations; a chronic conditions care planning project, and a program to identify and cut unnecessary and potentially harmful medical tests.