Congressional Briefing - August 17, 2009

Options for Controlling Health Care Spending in Massachusetts

surgeon removes coins from piggy bank


Christine Eibner


Monday, August 17, 2009


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


210 Cannon House Building

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About the Program

Health care reform is one of the top legislative priorities for the 111th Congress. As the House and Senate debate the different proposals, one of the most common questions is how to reign in health care spending and decrease costs.

The RAND Corporation recently conducted an analysis of options for reducing health care spending in Massachusetts. Rising health care costs threaten to make the universal coverage initiative passed in 2006 unsustainable. The lessons learned in this study are broadly applicable and could help Congress navigate cost containment proposals in the health reform debate. Findings from the report presented at the briefing will include the following:

  • Policies that would reform payments systems are the most promising for reducing spending.
  • Policies aimed at managing chronic illness show limited potential for reducing spending—many require investments that may not pay off in the short to medium term.
  • No single policy is a magic bullet—a combined approach is likely necessary.
  • Experience with most of the policy options is limited.

About the Speaker

Christine Eibner is an economist at RAND. Her current research focuses on trends in the availability and affordability of private health insurance, socioeconomic disparities in health, employer-sponsored insurance, military medical policy, and modeling the effect of health care policy changes on costs, insurance coverage, and other outcomes. In addition to leading the cost analysis component of the Massachusetts work presented this afternoon, Eibner co-led the cost analysis for Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations webpage, contact or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.

The second briefing in RAND's Health Care Costs Series is scheduled for August 24, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. in 210 Cannon House Building. Economist Neeraj Sood will present findings on how rapid growth in health care costs hurt economic performance of U.S. industries. Watch for an email invitation with additional information.

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Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.