September 2018 Letter from the Executive Director: Nancy Giunto to Testify on Transparency Before Senate Subcommittee
On a hot, smoky, not-so-transparent day in Seattle last month, I received an email from a staff member of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee inquiring about my interest to testify before a bipartisan hearing on the topic of reducing health care costs through transparency. We sent a copy of our “First Do No Harm” report to Congressional staff earlier this year, and the continued media coverage and citation of the report in respected publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association have certainly caught the attention of those working on health care affordability in D.C.
On September 18, I will be one of four expert witnesses invited to provide expertise and experience on efforts to reduce costs and improve the quality and value of health care at the hearing “Examining How Transparency Can Lower Spending and Empower Patient’s Health Care Costs.” This is the fourth in a series of HELP Committee hearings overseen by Washington State Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member, and Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman from Tennessee. These hearings are part of a bigger discussion and movement across the nation to address the skyrocketing costs of health care and we should all be thrilled that senate leaders are devoting so much time to this topic in a bipartisan way. King County Executive Dow Constantine will be testifying at the hearing after this one, and said he will be mentioning the Alliance as well.
As Congress and health care leaders work to find solutions to the affordability crisis, there has been a recent groundswell in making hospital cost and quality data available to consumers, and a recognition that transparency is essential to lowering health care costs. Last month, a new ruling by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandated that hospitals post their charges online for public access.
Since 2004, the Washington Health Alliance has been committed to bringing together the most reliable data on health care quality and value in our state to help payers, providers, purchasers, and patients make better health care decisions. We are honored that the HELP committee has recognized us as leaders in advocating for transparency to help lower the cost of care. However, we could not have arrived at this place without the hard work of our Board of Directors, Alliance members and stakeholders across the state who continue to collaborate to find solutions on how to improve health care value – cost, quality and patient experience. I am deeply appreciative of your support and your continued efforts to drive change in our state and across the nation, and I am proud that our state is looked to as a national leader because of our collaborative efforts.
We encourage our members to learn more and get involved. A video of the hearings will be made available to the public on the committee’s website after September 18, and I will be sharing with you a copy of my testimony as well.
There are no easy solutions to the issue of affordability. But with all of us working together, the answers will become a little clearer…a bit like the autumn winds and rain that are clearing the Seattle skyline as I write this!
Nancy A. Giunto