The House today approved one of Governor Jay Inslee’s top legislative priorities, a health care purchasing bill aimed at improving the quality of care, reducing costs and increasing transparency.
Health care inflation has resulted in health care costs taking up an increasingly large share of state spending over the past three decades, increasing at about seven percent per year. Inslee has long said one of his priorities is reducing inflation and improving quality. HB 2572 is a first step toward doing just that – providing better information to consumers, integrating behavioral health with medical care, and using market forces to bring costs under control while improving quality.
“There’s no doubt we can do much more to make sure we’re getting better quality and better costs in our health care system,” said Inslee. “Health care costs aren’t just eating up a greater share of the bottom line for businesses and families, but for state government as well. If we don’t address the issue of health care inflation, funding for other priorities such as education will suffer. This bill will bring an unprecedented level of transparency and coordination to Washington’s health care system, bringing down costs over time and giving consumers access to information they need to make informed health care choices.”
HB 2572 makes improvements to the state’s health care purchasing system, integrates mental health and substance abuse care with primary care in the Medicaid program, and establishes a database of cost and quality information that will allow consumers to essentially comparison shop when researching health care providers and services. The increased coordination and transparency is estimated to reduce state health care costs by about $300 million over the next five years.
“This information will guide Washingtonians as they make some of life’s most important, and often times costly, decisions,” said Rep. Eileen Cody, Chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a loaf of bread or a new car or bypass surgery – consumers should have access to critical information on quality and price before they make a purchase.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.