Big Healthcare Victory for Small Business

Date: May 15, 2015

Related Content: News State Washington

Two years of long hours, interminable emails and phone calls, and the unavoidable headaches of keeping three-dozen entities and an entire Legislature on track culminated today, May 14, with Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature of Senate Bill 5084 into law.
 
The state can now begin building an effective All-Payer Claims Database that will empower everyone to compare quality and costs among health-care providers. The importance of this cannot be minimized for small businesses, which have ranked the cost and availability of health care their No. 1 worry in studies conducted by NFIB for the past 30 – consecutive! – years.
 
“The people of the state are the winners,” said Governor Inslee in a news release. “Quality and cost information are now going to be available to all of us.”
 
Patrick Connor, pictured above at lectern, Washington state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, who quarterbacked the two-year-long effort which took place under an umbrella group, the Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency, said, “Today is the start of a new era for cost and quality transparency in Washington state. Businesses and consumers will now have access to meaningful cost and quality information to make informed health-care decisions.”
 
In the video below, Connor speaks at 4 minutes, 20 seconds into to the news conference and Governor Inslee thanks NFIB at 10 minutes, 16 seconds into the video. This report continues below the video.
 

Added Caroline Whalen, chief administrative officer for King County and a member of the coalition, “This law will advance health care in our state, enable us to retain our position as a national leader in quality transparency and improve our state’s ability to lead in cost transparency.”
 
On the Washington Health Alliance website, Scott Armstrong, president and CEO of Group Health noted, “We are encouraged that the Legislature and the governor have created a tool that can really make a difference in helping people be more actively involved in making wise health-care decisions.”
 
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 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. 
 
“Last year there was a lot of disagreement about the All Payer Claims Database,” said Governor Inslee. While the information collected in the database can significantly help us improve the quality and cost of health care, there were important differences of opinion to work out. This year, the different groups came together – my office, insurers, providers, advocates, the Washington Health Alliance, small and large businesses and local governments – and worked constructively to resolve their issues.” 
 
Data that will be submitted under the new law includes 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. 
 
Sample Media Coverage
 
Seattle Times
 
Puget Sound Business Journal
 
Seattle Business Magazine
 
Bellevue Business Journal
 

KUOW-FM NPR


PR Newswire

Healthcare Payer News
Mandate brings another all-payer database to market

 

Related Content: News | State | Washington

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I particularly want to thank the National Federation of Independent Business who has been there all the way through this.

— Gov. Jay Inslee

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