Gov. Inslee continues push for health care cost transparency, reaches agreement for 2015 legislation

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OLYMPIA – Consumers, employers, medical providers and policy makers will have the information they need to make informed decisions about buying and using health care under legislation proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

HB 1437/SB 5084, scheduled for public hearing tomorrow, creates an all-payer claims database that provides public access to cost and quality information about health care providers and services.

The database will give purchasers, providers and consumers a clearer picture of where money is being spent, and how costs compare across procedures and services, geographies, populations and other demographics. Currently, 20 other states have these databases.

“We all want a top-notch health care system that improves our families’ health at an affordable cost,” Inslee said. “Better information will result in a better system. I appreciate the hard work of our health care and insurance providers in helping us develop a database that will ultimately make our system more efficient and effective for everyone.”

In 2014 the Legislature enacted a bill creating a very limited database that did not mandate submission of claims from all insurers. The legislation was a compromise after insurance companies and health care providers raised concerns regarding privacy protections and data disclosure.

The governor’s office convened months of negotiations among representatives of insurers, providers, purchasers, and policy makers to address concerns and create a database that includes all health care claims from both commercial and public payers on almost all health care services.

The governor’s new proposal – supported by all affected parties – includes privacy protections for patient information, increased state oversight, and a clearer process for data disclosure.

“Premera is very pleased to support these bills creating a true all-payer claims database. We believe very strongly that transparency in health care is important, and this all-payer claims database is another piece of the puzzle in giving people more information to improve health care,” said Len Sorrin, Premera’s Vice President for Congressional and Legislative Affairs.

“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.”

“Currently, it is difficult to know how costs compare among patients, insurance plans, and providers. There’s tremendous variation in costs for the same procedure, and often it is hard to know what those differences are, and why they are there. Without a comprehensive picture of cost and quality, it’s impossible for businesses who are buying these goods and services to leverage their market strength for improvement,” said Patrick Connor, NFIB Washington State Director.

“Regence has been a long-time supporter of transparency in health care and we believe a true all-payer claims database will not only provide consumers increased cost visibility but will assist carriers and providers as we develop innovative partnerships and seek opportunities to offer our customers quality care at an affordable price,” said Chris Bandoli, Regence BlueShield’s Director of Government Affairs.

House Bill 1437 is sponsored by Representatives Cody and Harris and will be heard in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Jan. 30 at 11:00 a.m. Senate Bill 5084 is sponsored by Senators Becker and Frockt and will be heard in the Senate Health Care Committee in the next few weeks.

Media Contacts

Jaime Smith
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office