“I’ll do my part by collaborating with others to improve health, reduce price, and eliminate waste” was the pledge that purchasers, payers, providers, patients, and policymakers across the country committed to at our nation’s capital at the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement’s (NRHI) National Affordability Summit earlier this month. Several KHC members attended the summit, including Teresa Couts, UAW/Ford and KHC; Don Lovasz, KentuckyOne Health Partners; Amanda Elder, LG&E; Emily Beauregard, Kentucky Voices for Health; Stephanie Clouser, KHC; and myself.
Dr. Stuart Altman kicked off the event; he is an economist with five decades of experience working on federal, state, private, and academic health policy. His humorous keynote kept folks engaged despite the bleak prediction of family premiums rising to 100% of the US median household income by 2033 if trends continue on this trajectory. The current average family health insurance premium is approaching $20,000 per year. He gave examples of how America can change this trend by collectively eliminating the 33% waste that is estimated in medical spending. He encouraged consumers to become more engaged and employers to better control their healthcare spending. He used Massachusetts as an example of how states should track healthcare spending as total spending to include Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial payments, not just their Medicaid spending. Since 2012, Massachusetts went from one of the highest healthcare spending states to among the lowest.
Mylia Christensen of HealthInsight, also the NRHI affordability chair, presented the amazing work that is happening across the country to reduce healthcare spending by improving health, reducing price, and eliminating waste. The KHC and KY Medicaid’s Kentucky Core Healthcare Measures set was one of the projects featured by regional healthcare improvement collaboratives as a way of eliminating administrative waste. The KHC team was proud for our work to have been featured among the dozen or so strategies featured across the nation to address healthcare affordability.
At lunch, I had an enjoyable conversation with a very, soft-spoken woman with kind eyes and a quick smile. I liked her immediately. It was to my surprise when she joined the stage that afternoon as the self-described “tough negotiator grandma” who reduced Montana’s employer healthcare spending and returned big funds to the state’s budget. Marilyn Bartlett was tough indeed, and she had just proven what employers and states can do to reduce healthcare spending through referenced-based pricing and drug pricing transparency. She was my favorite speaker of the day, and I hope one day we can have her come to Kentucky to speak about her work.
One of the main takeaways from the event was that communities should not blame any healthcare sector for the current healthcare spending issues but should rather come together to solve the issues collectively. That’s what the KHC has planned for its affordability summit on Tuesday, December 4. Any stakeholder is invited to attend, and the group will identify at least two to three solutions that we can implement around healthcare affordability at this event. We invite you to join us and be part of the solution.