Gov. Gina Raimondo asked a group of health care experts and stakeholders to come up with a plan to keep health care spending in check. She asked them to consider placing a cap on all health care spending, and other measures to slow spending growth. This week the group announced four recommendations for her consideration.
One is to create a new office of health policy, to coordinate all of the efforts to reform health care. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Roberts says the state's health policy expertise - and efforts - are too dispersed to be effective. “We have health policy expertise at the Department of Health, Health Insurance Commissioner, my office (EOHHS), Behavioral Health Care, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals," said Roberts. "We should be working closely together to have a coordinated health policy for the state. That will actually save us money inside government but also really improve the system more broadly.”
Concerns have been raised about creating what some call a new layer of bureaucracy. But Roberts insists the office would be focused on coordination, bringing together under one roof the expertise that already exists throughout state government.
The group backed away from recommending a global cap on health care spending, something Massachusetts has done. Instead, it recommends setting a spending target for insurers and health care providers. The target would not be binding, but would encourage more transparency, the group says, around pricing and spending. The group also wants to put mechanisms in place to hold health care providers and insurers accountable for meeting those targets.
The Hospital Association of Rhode Island is speaking out against setting a target. HARI president Mike Souza said the state isn't prepared for the possible consequences of a spending target.“I think the last thing we want to do is limit economic growth and stifle innovation," said Souza. "And there are still some questions out there," he continued, questions about how the target would established and whether hospitals are financially strong enough to meet them. Hospitals, health care providers, and health insurers were all represented on the 41-member working group that came up with these recommendations.
A fourth suggestion is to improve the state's ability to analyze health care data. The state operates several databases, but the group says those sources aren't currently connected. Bringing together such sources as a hospital discharge database, de-identified records in the patient medical record system CurrentCare, and the state's new all-payor claims database (a source of data from all insurers operating in the state about the health care services their members use) could give data analysts more insight into how health care dollars are being spent.
Read the group's full report here.