Addressing the spiraling costs of health care is essential to making health care more affordable for more people. It's just as essential to helping businesses remain competitive and to restoring our state's ability to adequately fund priorities such as education.
Fortunately, passage of the federal Affordable Care Act has presented us with the ideal opportunity to implement the kinds of cost-saving, health-improving reforms that will help us achieve those goals. Gov. Inslee is bullish about health care reform because he knows the status quo is dampening our economic recovery and not adequately meeting the needs of businesses or citizens. His goals are simple: boost access to primary care, improve the quality of care and cut costs.
Washington state is establishing itself as a national leader in the delivery of high-quality, lower-cost health care. Our successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in more than 600,000 working people in Washington obtaining coverage in addition to the hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who now benefit from more coverage for preventive care, the ability to insure their children longer and the elimination of restrictions and caps on insurance coverage. We will continue to build upon the Affordable Care Act with a focus on improving the quality and cost of care.
Gov. Inslee's health care priorities:
- Continue to enroll families in affordable insurance plans and Apple Health. The new affordable health plans and the expansion of Medicaid through Apple Health help Washington families and taxpayers to reap better health care as well as economic benefits - bringing in more than $2 billion annually to the state economy and generating tens of thousands of jobs.
- Pay for quality instead of quantity. Today, providers are reimbursed for office visits and procedures, which creates incentives to provide more care instead of better care. We must realign the financial incentives in state contracts for Medicaid and public employee health care to pay for services that make a difference while supporting similar payment models in the private insurance market that will pay for the right care in the right setting. And we must improve efforts to encourage community-based and home-based models of care for seniors and family members with disabilities.
- Make health care costs transparent so families and businesses know the cost and quality of the care they buy. With that information, consumers can make better health care purchasing decisions.
- Integrate mental health care and medical care to treat the whole person. We will start with the care purchased by the state and encourage private purchasers to follow our lead.
- Engage communities in identifying local health problems and assist them in bringing all state and local resources to bear on them. Our goal is to improve the health of the people throughout Washington. This will entail health care, mental health care, housing, public health efforts and other social services to make significant improvements. This effort will be directed locally with the state’s assistance.
- Curb state employee costs by improving health and focusing on primary and preventive care. Companies such as Boeing and governments such as King County have successfully shrunk costs and improved the health and productivity of their employees by working with them to better manage chronic conditions and engaging in preventive care strategies. Similar strategies are underway at the state level and will help taxpayers and state employees save millions of dollars.
- Stabilize rural emergency services and primary care funding. Washington’s agriculture industry generates tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and supports more than 130,000 jobs. But changes in payments to rural primary care providers threaten the viability of rural health care and, consequently, rural economies. Gov. Inslee has directed his administration to work with these providers to ensure we continue to meet their community needs.
- Policy Brief: The Healthiest Next Generation Initiative (Mar. 2014)
- Policy Brief: Policy Brief: Innovative Health Care Purchasing (Mar. 2014)
- Policy Brief: Policy Brief: Behavioral Health Integration (Mar. 2014)
- State Health Care Innovation Plan details
- News release: Governor Inslee signs significant bills to improve health care and reduce costs (Apr. 4, 2014)
- Health Care Quality and Price Transparency (Jan. 2014)
- Q&A for HB 2572 — Better Health Care Purchasing Care (Jan. 2014)