Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making it real: The states' role in making federal health-care reform work at the local level

I wrote recently  about our office's effort to get ahead of the curve for whatever health reforms are approved by Congress. Whatever passes -- assuming that something does -- it looks increasingly likely that enacting the changes will fall partly to the states.

To make that transition as smooth as possible, Washington's insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, plans to convene a "realization committee" to gather ideas and input for implementing any new reforms.

In anticipation of federal health-insurance reforms that will fall partly on the states to enact, Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is convening a "realization committee" to gather ideas and input for implementing the federal reforms, and then to make suggestions on the best approaches.

In some ways, the group is similar to the 2008 "local leadership councils" for health care issues. The councils, created by the legislature and convened by our office, tapped more than 120 small business owners, public health officers, mayors, hospital administrators, tribal leaders, doctors, nurses, etc. for their thoughts on health care reforms. They were asked things like how they would start health reform in WA, what an ideal health care program would look like, etc. From the resulting report:

Most council members were hopeful that significant healthcare reform would happen at the national level within four years. While a few initial comments showed some interest in pausing to see what national efforts would produce, there was near consensus about the fact that the state should not be idle and should push forward on healthcare reform. One participant said that “the state should be shovel-ready.”
That, in essence, seems to be the goal of the new committee: making sure Washington's ready to pick up whatever baton D.C. hands us.

For more about the specifics of what emerged from those early discussions, here's a link to the full report.