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MedCity morning read, Monday, March 16

Three years ago, Massachusetts pioneered a bold experiment in near-universal health-care coverage that other states have watched closely. Now, Massachusetts leaders are aiming at changing the payment method for health care to reward prevention and management of chronic disease.

Three years ago, Massachusetts pioneered a bold experiment in near-universal health-care coverage that other states have watched closely.

Given the Obama administration’s desire to cover every American with health care insurance, it’s an experiment that may hold important lessons for federal health care reform.

To make the Massachusetts experiment happen, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, deferred until another day any serious efforts to control the state’s runaway health care costs, according to the New York Times.

The day of reckoning has arrived. Threatened first by rapid early enrollment in its new subsidized insurance program and now by a withering economy, the experiment is entering a second, possibly more challenging phase, the Times said.

New taxes and fees imposed this year have stabilized the plan’s jittery finances. However, government and industry officials agree that the plan will not be sustainable over the next decade unless something is done to slow the growth of health care spending.

With Washington watching, Gov. Romney’s successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, and a high-level Massachusetts commission are trying to change the way public and private insurers reimburse doctors and hospitals, according to the Times.

The governor and commission want to figure out new a payment method that rewards prevention and management of chronic disease — wellness care – to replace the current system that pays for the quantity of care provided.

If Massachusetts is able to make this payment conversion, it would be as audacious an achievement as universal coverage, policy experts told  the Times.

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