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Purchasers Prioritize Action and Invite You to Join Them!

Letter from the Director of Performance Improvement & Innovation

Approximately half of all Americans get their health insurance coverage as an employee or union member. That number is even higher in Washington state with 52.9% of us covered through employer-sponsored health insurance – whether provided directly to employees or through a union agreement. Spending for employer-sponsored coverage, including the insurance costs paid by employers and workers as well as the out-of-pocket expenses borne by individuals, represents almost half of the national health expenditures in the United States. With health care spending in the U.S. continuing to outpace inflation growing at 4.6% in 2019 and reaching $3.8 trillion or $11,582 per person, we must continue to prioritize taking action, individually and together, to tackle this persistent problem.

We are continually in listening mode with all of our members to understand your concerns and priorities. As a purchaser-led organization, we are listening especially carefully to the concerns expressed by our employers and union trust members as these organizations and their workforces bear a significant share of the health care cost burden in the United States and are seeking ways to make a difference in the cost, quality, and experience of care.

We do much of our work at the Alliance through our member advisory committees. The Purchaser Affinity Group (PAG), along with the Consumer Education, Health Economics, and Quality Improvement Committees inform and support our collective work at the Alliance. The Purchaser Affinity Group, or the “PAG” as it is commonly referred to, is unique in that its charter limits participation to “non-healthcare related employers and union trusts.” This means that only our public and private employers, union trusts, and multi-employer plans outside the health care industry are represented. This structure has been in place since the Alliance’s founding in 2004 by then King County Executive Ron Sims who, along with other like-minded employers, came together to address the rapidly rising cost of health care and the absence of meaningful insights into the cost drivers or quality of care. The PAG continues to represent this strong health care purchaser voice in all that we do.

We believe purchasers must play a central role in addressing what’s not working in health care today. Over the course of the last year, the Alliance team has been working with our PAG members to better understand and document their common priorities for action. These priorities were informed by 1:1 listening sessions, group discussions held during PAG meetings, and deliberate and focused conversations that occurred as part of the Alliance’s biennial eValue8™ process that we conduct with many of our purchaser and health plan members. (Stay tuned for the release of the eValue8 results in the very near future!)

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While these topics may not surprise you, it is important to know that we will be using these priorities to guide the work across all Alliance initiatives. If you want to learn more, you will find the Guiding Principles for Action and the Alliance activities related to each of these priorities here.

We hope you will take this opportunity to reflect on the ways that you and your organization can work with your Alliance partners to act as change agents in moving the needle in these priority areas. If you have particular areas of interest and want to know how you can partner with the Alliance purchaser members, please feel free to contact me or one of the PAG Co-Chairs listed below – Alliance PAG members are ready to roll and would love to have you join them in addressing these priorities!

Karen Johnson, Director, Performance Improvement & Innovation, 816.309.6472

Purchaser Affinity Group Co-Chairs:

If you are interested in learning more about our committees and other ways to engage in our work at the Alliance, please contact Theresa Lampkin Tamura, Director of Business Engagement and Membership.

All the best,

Karen

Published: August 5, 2021

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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