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Patrick Targets Health Care Costs In Second Term

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Gov. Patrick is sworn in for a second term Thursday, January 6, 2011.  (Photo credit: Matt Bennett/Governor's Office)

Gov. Patrick is sworn in for a second term Thursday, January 6, 2011. (Photo credit: Matt Bennett/Governor’s Office)

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick outlined a series of broad policy goals for his second term Thursday, vowing to bring down health care spending, reduce the cost of doing business in Massachusetts and close a stubborn achievement gap in schools.

Patrick said he’ll start by filing legislation in the next few weeks that he says will help Massachusetts tackle soaring health care costs by simplifying and overhauling the way doctors, hospitals and others are paid.

Patrick made the pledge during an inaugural speech delivered moments after he took his oath of office at a ceremony in the Massachusetts House chambers.

Listen To Patrick’s Speech:

“The work of the second term looms before us,” he said. “That means jobs to create, schools to strengthen, health care costs to reduce, and urban violence to end.”

To help address health care costs, Patrick said he’s directing the state’s main health care programs — including MassHealth, the Health Care Connector and the Group Insurance Commission — to launch pilot programs aimed at reducing spending.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports on Govenor Patrick’s second term plans.

‘JOBS ADVOCATE’

Patrick also vowed to be the state’s “jobs advocate” in his second term, leading more trade missions both in the country and abroad to drum up business.

He pledged to help the state create a more robust entrepreneurial environment by removing outdated regulations, reining in escalating health insurance premiums, and easing limits on capital access for small businesses.

“We will compete for every job, in every industry, in every corner of the commonwealth, and the world,” he said.

PATRICK’S PROMISES

Patrick again promised to work to close the state’s persistent racial and ethnic achievement gap in schools and to combat youth violence in the state’s cities.

He also said that more changes are needed to reduce abuses in the state pension system, overhaul the probation and parole system, create sentencing laws that are more coherent, and build a tax code that is simpler and fairer.

“We cannot be satisfied, and I will not be satisfied, until we have done all we can in each of these areas,” Patrick said.

WBZ Radio’s Doug Cope reports on Gov. Deval Patrick taking the oath for the second time.

THE CEREMONY

Moments before delivering his speech, Patrick was sworn in by Senate President Therese Murray, the first time in state history that a woman has presided over the swearing-in of a governor.

Patrick placed his hand on the Mendi Bible, presented to John Quincy Adams by the African captives he helped free in the Amistad 1841 Supreme Court case. Patrick used the same Bible during his first inaugural.

Patrick began the day at a prayer service.  Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean O’Malley, former WBZ-TV anchor and Rev. Liz Walker, as well as representatives from other faiths, joined the Rev. Nancy Taylor under the beamed ceiling of Old South Church to pray for Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray.

At the Statehouse, a red carpet awaited them, first to lead to the House chamber for their swearing-in, then to guide the public to the base of the Grand Staircase for an afternoon open house.

Patrick planned to spend part of the afternoon greeting well-wishers filtering through Nurses Hall, followed by a 7 p.m. inaugural a $50-per-person party at the Boston Public Library.

The events will be followed two days later by a youth town hall, community service event and celebration hosted by the governor and first lady Diane Patrick.

SCALED DOWN FROM ’07

The festivities were scaled back from 2007, when Patrick was sworn in on the building’s front steps and feted afterward with a series of inaugural balls across the state.

Patrick’s campaign aides initially estimated a $400,000 price tag for this year’s activities — compared to the $2 million raised four years ago — in part to reflect the tough economic times.

On Wednesday, the campaign reported it had raised more than $700,000 from leading Massachusetts companies, including large insurers, Fidelity Investments, the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots.

Patrick’s swearing-in comes a day after state lawmakers took their oath of office and turned their attention to the coming two-year legislative term.

Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, both Democrats, vowed not to raise taxes this year while working to find common ground on a bill to legalize casino gambling and trying to strengthen the state’s economy.

TOP DONORS

The top donor to Patrick’s inaugural was Arbella Mutual Insurance Co., one of the largest insurers in New England. The company donated $50,000.  

Donations or pledges of $25,000 apiece were also received from telecommunications company Comcast; data storage manufacturer EMC Corp.; Fidelity Investments; and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The Boston Red Sox gave $15,000, as did the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of Massachusetts. The Patriots donated $10,000.   

In 2007, Patrick donated excess contributions from his inaugural to charitable organizations.

Political contributions in Massachusetts are limited to $500 annually from an individual, but lawmakers are allowed to collect unlimited donations from individuals or corporations for inaugural, legal defense and recount funds.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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