Bipartisan Agreement: Health Care System Must Change

Democratic and Republican governors agree: focusing on health care outcomes can improve the quality of care and lower costs.

At the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting, February 20-22, 2010, governors identified elements needed for health care reform:

  • Focus on outcomes and reward the quality of care delivered, not volume of treatments.
  • Provide flexibility and waivers from the federal government (e.g., Medicaid).
  • Rely less on fee-for-service.
  • Set standards of care based on expert advice and evidence.
  • Develop robust wellness programs.
  • Prevent and manage chronic conditions.
  • Promote transparency (e.g., report medical results; hospital infections).
  • Drive cost reductions through information technology (e.g., electronic medical records).
  • Promote competition.
  • Create incentives for individuals to take more responsibility for their health.
  • Coordinate care (provide a “medical home” for patients).
  • Pool to create more buying power and to negotiate better prices.
  • Seek insurance reform that guarantees renewability and makes it illegal to deny insurance to those with a preexisting condition.

“We have an epidemic of care,” said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. She noted that as many as 80 different treatments can be recommended for the same diagnosis. If one treatment has demonstrated to have better results than another, the system needs to reward providers who follow that standard of care. Patients are healthier and the costs are less as there are fewer complications, days in the hospital, or other interventions.

Without moving forward with health care reform, health care costs are on track to bankrupt the country. Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, NGA chair, said that a summit is planned in March to focus on evidence-based medicine and options to improve health care delivery systems.