Report calls on state leaders to spearhead healthcare reform

As general health of the American population falls in comparison to other developed nations and the cost of healthcare skyrockets, a recent report by the State Health Care Cost Containment Commission says governors and state legislatures are in the best position to lead change.

The report, entitled "Cracking the Code on Health Care Costs," calls for state officials to lead the charge in replacing the country's "reliance on fragmented, fee-for-service care with coordinated care using payment models that hold organizations accountable for cost control and quality gains."

Project director Raymond Scheppach, lead researcher John Thomasian and their team at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia write that states can use numerous policy levers to influence how the healthcare system operates. 

The State Health Care Cost Containment Commission recommend some ways states can address the challenges of healthcare reform, including:

  • Create an alliance of stakeholders to transform the healthcare system: States must engage payers, consumers and providers, and seek long-term commitments to change in order to succeed in change;
  • Define and collect data to create a profile of healthcare in the state: Define and collect data on healthcare spending and quality of healthcare delivery; conduct an initial comparative analysis and determine subcomponents of healthcare spending; compile information on key population health statistics and factors that affect population health and inventory the healthcare infrastructure, including providers and plans;
  • Establish statewide baselines and goals for healthcare spending, quality and other measures: Adopt annual spending and quality benchmarks for the next five years, as well as goals for key population statistics, and conduct a report every year to see if the state meets those goals;
  • Use current healthcare spending programs to drive the trend toward coordinated, risk-based care: States must create a standard definition of coordinated, risk-based care, and start transitioning Medicaid for children and adults toward patient-centered, high-performance care; and
  • Help promote population health and personal responsibility in healthcare: Educate citizens about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle by assisting schools and community organizations to adopt policies that promote health, and working with state employees to make healthier choices. Be sure to address the importance of creating a plan for end-of-life care.

The recommendations came just days before the Massachusetts' Health Policy Commission gathered to discuss findings from its first cost trends report, which examined the state's healthcare delivery system and specific cost drivers: hospital operating expenses, wasteful spending, and high-cost patients. The report revealed that in 2012, Massachusetts wasted an estimated 21-39 percent, or $14.7 billion to $26.9 billion, of healthcare expenditures.

To learn more:
- here's the report
- read the Massachusetts report findings