Drug companies would be held accountable in new Baker health care proposal

Expanding access to behavioral health and primary care, targeting hidden consumer costs, and holding drug companies accountable for “unjustified” price hikes are major goals of a new health care bill offered by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Baker unveiled his proposal at a Friday afternoon press conference, saying it also includes measures to help “distressed” community hospitals and community health centers, focuses of health care legislation that died last legislative session.

Under his bill, providers and insurers, including MassHealth, would be required to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care by 30 percent over three years “within the construct of the state’s healthcare benchmark.”

Baker also signed an executive order forming a commission to study the individual and small group insurance market and look at trends that are pushing costs higher for individuals and smaller employers in the so-called merged market.

The Baker administration also announced that it had approved $15 million to be deposited into the Health Safety Net Trust Fund to support care provided to uninsured and under-insured patients by acute care hospitals and community health centers.

“This legislation supports holistic approaches to care, provides consumers and employers with affordable care options, promotes behavioral health parity, and ensures everyone has access to the services they need,” Baker said in a statement.