Massachusetts comes to Minnesota to learn health care done right

When it comes to health care, Minnesota is the nation’s teacher.

The Boston Globe reports that a contingent from Massachusetts, a state that usually ranks fairly high in health care innovation, is finishing up two days of meetings with experts in Minnesota to figure out what this state knows that others don’t.

“There are number of things Minnesota has been doing for a long time that may be of interest to Massachusetts,” Douglas McCarthy, senior research director at the Commonwealth Fund, told the Globe.

His organization issued a report card that showed Minnesota was tops in the nation on health care measures, and its individual communities are usual tops in local health system performance. But Massachusetts was no slouch; it finished fourth, although that’s down from second in a previous survey. Massachusetts was the first state to require universal health coverage under then Gov. Mitt Romney.

“We actually lag behind many other states when it comes to our use of hospitals,” said David Seltz, executive director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, which monitors medical spending. “We’re one of the worst-performing states when it comes to readmissions. Minnesota has implemented a number of reforms and policies to try to reduce the rate of preventable readmissions.”

Seltz, who happens to be a Minneapolis native, will join the senators on their trip, as will Elizabeth Mahoney, Governor Charlie Baker’s associate chief and policy director, and Alice Moore, undersecretary of health and human services.

A private foundation, the Milbank Memorial Fund, is paying their expenses.

The group is expected to hear about Minnesota’s evolving Medicaid program, how the state is deploying paramedics in new ways to provide care, and how one pilot program, Hennepin Health, reduced hospital visits by better managing patients’ care at home.

Minnesota and Massachusetts have a lot in common. They have similar populations, divided government, roughly the same percentage of uninsured, and both states have companies that are tops for health care brands (think Mayo Clinic).