A gubernatorial task force that has been studying ways to cut health care costs in Maryland concluded its public deliberations today but delayed final approval of its draft report until the staff can incorporate some last-minute changes.
The task force on health care cost containment also decided against making its draft report public before forwarding it to Gov. Harry Hughes.
"A decision was made by the chairman that the report from this point on should be kept within the task force . . . so that the final draft is seen first by the governor," said staff director David P. Henninger.
The task force already has given preliminary approval to a number of major changes in the way Maryland regulates the health care industry, including recommending an overall revenue cap for the state's 54 acute care hospitals, a moratorium on hospital expansions and giving the secretary of health the authority to decertify hospital services, including the power to close entire hospitals.
Yesterday, the task force voted to include in its draft proposal a recommendation placing certain restrictions on the formation of so-called "preferred provider options" in health insurance plans. Although Henninger said the effect of the changes "is difficult to determine," he said it would alter a "preferred provider" arrangement planned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield this year sought approval of the plan, under which insurance costs would be lowered for groups that agree to use certain selected lower-cost hospitals. But the plan is being challenged in court by a number of Baltimore hospitals that would be excluded from participating.
The changes endorsed by the task force would broaden the range of hospitals that would likely be included in such a plan.