Business News for Bellevue and the Eastside of Lake Washington

Governor To Sign NFIB-Backed Health-Care Costs Bill

NFIB logoAt a bill-signing ceremony scheduled for this morning at 10:30 a.m. in his office, Gov. Jay Inslee will put his signature on a measure that NFIB led the coordination and legislative passage of: An All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) that will eventually empower everyone in Washington state to compare quality and costs among health-care providers.

“Pairing cost and quality metrics in an All-Payer Claims Database is our best hope of educating and empowering employers to identify or design health-benefits plans that meet the needs of their particular workforce, and ultimately, give families and individuals access to meaningful information to guide their health-care purchasing decisions,” said Patrick Connor, Washington state director for America’s leading small-business association, the National Federation of Independent Business.

According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Basics of All-Payer Claims Databases, “APCDs are large-scale databases that systematically collect medical claims, pharmacy claims, dental claims (typically, but not always), and eligibility and provider files from private and public payers. The first statewide APCD system was established in Maine in 2003 … Currently, more than 30
states have, are implementing, or have strong interest in APCDs.”

Senate Bill 5084, which the governor will sign into law today, had strong support among small businesses, health-care providers and patient organizations with 35 groups supporting the bill when it was initially heard in the Senate Health Care Committee and 27 groups signing in support of the House version of the bill. No group stated opposition to the bill.

SB 5084 corrects flaws in a law passed by the Legislature last year to establish an APCD. Among the problems with the existing law was that it lacked a requirement for all health insurers to submit their data. Experience in other states has shown that without a mandate, it is impossible to provide a comprehensive picture of the cost and quality of health care.

Data that would be submitted under the new law would include financial information, which would allow for analyses about health-care value—meaning quality and cost information about the cost of episodes of care, such as hospitalizations, which had not previously been broadly available.

Because the cost and availability of health care has been the No. 1 worry of small-business owners for 30 years, Connor took the lead in coordinating the activities of the Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency. “It has been a two-year effort to enact and perfect the statutory framework authorizing a true All-Payer Claims Database for Washington state, but once it is fully up and running, employers, consumers, providers, and even policymakers should see the immense value of it in making health-care providers more competitive, the result of which will make medical coverage more affordable while improving outcomes for patients.”

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