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Signing ceremony for All-Payer Claims Database legislation marks new era of cost and quality transparency in Washington state

Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency applauds Governor Jay Inslee and state legislators for bi-partisan effort

Contact: John Gallagher, Washington Health Alliance Communication and Development Director, 206-300-1597, jgallagher@wahealthalliance.org or Patrick Connor, NFIB/Washington State Director, 360-786-8675, patrick.connor@nfib.org.

Olympia, May 14, 2015—At a ceremony in his office today, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to establish a fully functional All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), which will give consumers, providers and employers important new information to understand the quality and affordability of health care in Washington.

An APCD is a large-scale, secure database that collects health-care claims data from health insurers as the basis for analyses of cost and quality. The legislation, ESSB 5084, was passed by the state legislature with broad bipartisan support. The bill had strong support among businesses, health-care providers and patient organizations.

“Today is the start of a new era for cost and quality transparency in Washington state,” said Patrick Connor, Washington state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, a member of the Coalition. “Businesses and consumers will now have access to meaningful cost and quality information to make informed health-care decisions.”

ESSB 5084 corrects flaws in a law passed by the Legislature last year to establish an APCD. Among the problems with the existing law was that it lacked a requirement for all health insurers to submit their data. Experience in other states has shown that without a mandate, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive picture of the cost and quality of health care.

Data that would be submitted under the new legislation would include financial information, which would allow for analyses about health-care value—meaning quality and cost information about the cost of episodes of care, such as hospitalizations, has not previously been broadly available.

“This law will advance health care in our state, enable us to retain our position as a national leader in quality transparency and improve our state’s ability to lead in cost transparency,” said Caroline Whalen, Chief Administrative Officer for King County and immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Washington Health Alliance. Both King County and the Alliance are Coalition members.  “For King County this bill means that we can have more robust reports to do our innovative work on benefit design to save taxpayers money.”

“Group Health believes this transparency bill is a critical step forward in helping all health care consumers better understand the costs to provide quality care that results in positive outcomes,” said Scott Armstrong, Group Health President and CEO. “We are encouraged that the Legislature and the Governor have created a tool that can really make a difference in helping people be more actively involved in making wise health care decisions.”

In prepared remarks, Gov. Inslee praised stakeholders for coming together to improve the legislation passed in 2014.

“Last year there was a lot of disagreement about the All-Payer Claims Database,” Gov. Inslee said. “While the information collected in the database can significantly help us improve the quality and cost of health care, there were important differences of opinion to work out.  This year, the different groups came together – my office, insurers, providers, advocates, the Washington Health Alliance,  small and large businesses and local governments – and worked constructively to resolve their issues. The people of the state are the winners. Quality and cost information are now going to be available to all of us.”

About the Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency

The Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency is a broad coalition of business leaders, health care providers, community groups and consumers who support expanding APCD legislation.