Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Joyce: health care "biggest issue facing state government"

Paying for health care is "probably the biggest issue facing us in state government," state Sen. Brian Joyce said here Tuesday.
The Senate vice chairman of the Health Care Financing Committee, Joyce (D-Milton) spoke to the Sharon Adult Center and Council on Aging's Over 60 Men's Club, at the Sharon Community Center.
Joyce said health care costs represented 21 percent of state spending when he joined the Legislature in 1998.
The figure will reach 40 percent for the state budget cycle starting July 1, he said.
"If we don't make some dramatic changes by fiscal year 2020, it will be half," said Joyce, who represents Avon, Braintree, Canton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Milton, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton and West Bridgewater.
The upcoming state budget will allow cities and towns to "implement (health care) changes for municipal workers that they've only been able to do through collective bargaining," Joyce said.
Joyce also discussed looking at health care from a preventative care perspective, funding things that promote exercise and diet.
Currently, "(if) I hurt my ankle playing basketball, the doctor sends me to get an MRI, another one sends me to do something else," he said.
"Those costs add up," Joyce said.
Joyce said he leaves for China on Saturday for a 10-day exchange mission.
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Alaska State Senate President Gary Stevens, Wyoming House Appropriations Chair Rosie Berger and Hawaii House Legislative Management Chair Kyle Yamashita will also participate in the visit, according to a press release from Joyce's office.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to generate some relationships that benefit my district," Joyce said.