Improving the health system requires all of us

March was a turbulent month for the health care industry as the American Health Care Act (ACHA) was introduced and then withdrawn from Congress. Discussion of the bill dominated the news, and there are rumblings that a second attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be made soon.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, the reality is that no health care plan will resolve the nation’s health care crisis without first lowering the cost of care. The AHCA – like the ACA – focuses primarily on insurance coverage. But coverage will not be affordable until health care is affordable – which means the Alliance’s mission remains vitally important.

We know that no matter what, transparency in the health system is critical to identifying opportunities for improving quality, cost and the patient experience as we define value. Advancing transparency through performance measurement and reporting on quality, utilization and price strengthens purchaser engagement and allows them to leverage their buying power to shape demand and make informed decisions.  For data and information to matter, it must be actionable.

Recently, a purchaser partner of the Alliance utilized Alliance work on opioid usage to assess his workplace’s use of brand name drugs and prescription patterns to see how his employees’ experiences compare to recommended best practices. Results of his inquiry will inform employee education programs and perhaps benefit design. When employers use reports to determine areas of greatest need and establish action plans for improvement, we know we are making progress.

And as providers and hospitals in Washington continue to improve in the delivery of quality, evidence-based care and in the reduction of unwarranted variation, the result will be a significant reduction in medical costs.

If a version of the AHCA becomes law, or if the ACA remains, our mission is still the same. We must continue to work together to improve health care quality and affordability regardless of the policy environment. And given the potential shift in emphasis to state and regional leadership, our work only becomes more relevant and more important. Thank you for joining with us on this critical mission.

Published: April 4, 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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