Legislature passes health-care transparency bill


Governor could finally give consumers an effective All-Payer Claims Database

OLYMPIA, Wash., April 20, 2015—In a big victory for the Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency, the Legislature, with huge bipartisan support, late last week passed a bill to establish a fully functional All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), which would give health-care consumers something they have long sought: The ability to shop and compare prices among health providers.

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 measure, ESSB 5084, now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature into law. The governor had requested the legislation.

The bill had strong support among businesses, health-care providers and patient organizations with 35 groups signing in to support the bill when it was initially heard in the Senate Health Care Committee and 27 groups signing in support of the House version of the bill. No group stated opposition to the bill.

“Small-business owners and the families they support are now required to purchase health insurance,” said Patrick Connor, Washington state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, a member of the Coalition. “They deserve access to meaningful cost and quality information to make informed health-care decisions. This APCD is the foundation for better information and lower costs.”

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.

“Because of this legislation, Washington will be able to build upon its reputation as a national leader in health-care innovation,” said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Washington Health Alliance, another Coalition member, which has served as the state’s voluntary APCD since 2008. “We will now be able to add cost information to the robust quality data we have to get a clearer picture of how well our health care system is performing. This advance is thanks to the leadership in both the Senate and the House, and in particular Sen. Randi Becker and Rep. Eileen Cody, who had the skill and foresight to create a bill that protects patient privacy and which has the potential to save significant money for businesses, consumers and the state.”

“Washington’s hospitals and physicians will use the data to improve our quality and better serve our patients,” said Cassie Sauer, Senior Vice President of the Washington State Hospital Association. “For example, hospitals can identify what types of post-discharge services help keep patients from being re-admitted to the hospital. Rural providers can examine which services patients are traveling long distances for and make plans to provide those services closer to home.”

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.

Media Contacts

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

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