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alliance-blog

Washington climbing rankings for health system performance

The Commonwealth Fund has released their 2017 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, and Washington is ranked #10 overall, an increase of six spots from its baseline rank. We rank particularly well in Avoidable Hospital Use & Cost (#5), Healthy Lives (#9) and Equity (#10), but scored lower in Access & Affordability (#18) and Prevention & Treatment (#23).

The report showed improvement across the board in Washington due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After ACA coverage expansions in 2015, the number of uninsured children under 18 was reduced by more than 50,000, uninsured adults ages 19-64 dropped by more than 442,000, and the number of adults who went without care because of cost dropped by more than 200,000.

The Commonwealth Fund report continues the good reviews of Washington’s health care system. Last week, US News & World Report ranked Washington in the top 10 best states for health care. The rankings placed Washington at #9 overall, and were based on health care access, health care quality, and public health.

This is great news and the Alliance celebrates these rankings as validation that the hard work and collaboration of so many organizations across the state are making a difference. Health system change is a tremendous undertaking and it is encouraging to see improvements in rankings such as these.

At the same time, we know that we still have a long way to go to achieve our goals of improving transparency and reducing variation, as well as reducing price, underuse of effective care, and overuse of unnecessary tests and procedures. Washington’s lower rankings in Access & Affordability and Prevention & Treatment are critical areas that should be focused on for improvement, and we were also called out as having “greatly worsened” in breast cancer deaths and mortality among Medicare beneficiaries. The state’s performance also worsened on a number of measures for vulnerable populations, including vaccination rates for low-income children and children of Hispanic ethnicity.

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         Source: Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2017

We hope that tools such as the Community Checkup will continue to be utilized by consumers so they can make more informed decisions about their care, by medical groups to improve the care they provide, and by purchasers to generate the most value from their health plans.

As noted in the Commonwealth Fund’s report, “Looking forward, it is likely that states will be challenged to provide leadership on health policy as the federal government considers a new relationship with states in public financing of health care. To improve the health of their residents, states must find creative ways of addressing the causes of rising mortality rates while also working to strengthen primary and preventive care.”

We know that Washington is up to the challenge, and that by continuing to shine a spotlight on performance that provide actionable insights, Washington can keep climbing the rankings and be a national leader in health system improvement.

View the full Commonwealth Fund Scorecard for Washington here.

Published: March 16, 2017

About Washington Health Alliance

The Washington Health Alliance is a place where stakeholders work collaboratively to transform Washington state’s health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together organizations that share a commitment to drive change in our health care system by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by stakeholders: purchasers, providers, health plans, consumers and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on measures of health care quality and value. The Alliance is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 185 member organizations. A cornerstone of the Alliance's work is the Community Checkup, a report to the public comparing the performance of medical groups, hospitals and health plans and offering a community-level view on important measures of health care quality (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

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