Since the first week in January, the Massachusetts legislature has tackled local sustainability investments, children’s health and wellness, hands-free driving, in addition to filing, debating and passing a $43 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020.
Albeit impressive, it is just the beginning of what Beacon Hill hopes to accomplish during this biennial session, ending in December 2020. Both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President have outlined goals for bills in education and sweeping health care cost containment, to name two big initiatives.
Returning last week after August recess, many elected officials and staff will come armed with fresh ideas and perspectives from time spent at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). NCSL is a bipartisan organization that provides states with “support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.”
Our Public Affairs team attended this year’s conference in Nashville, which is open to legislators, staff and anyone interested in state and local government. The summit offers hundreds of sessions highlighting a range of topics led by office holders, public sectors thought leaders and other government officials. Regardless of ideology, attendees learn—and share–how they can best advocate for their priorities and govern in their respective legislatures.
Especially as we look to reign in the high cost of health care in Massachusetts, it’s important to analyze the trials of other states seeking to solve this same issue. The NCSL session Medicaid: Innovations and Opportunities focused on creative solutions utilizing 1115 waivers while Paying the Price: Strategies to Control Health Care Costs explored drug pricing and billing protections. Among others, Massachusetts can learn from New York’s attempt to implement a law to limit surprise billing for treatment – something the Bay State began to address in 2017 and plans to resurface this year.
As our legislators demonstrate through their dedicated governance, it is important to develop and prescribe tailored solutions for the Commonwealth and its residents. Yet it is important to recognize and learn from the efforts of other states – and to work hand in hand with organizations like NCSL to ensure the best possible policy solutions make their way from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill.