Director's Corner: What’s Next for Health System Improvement - Four New Initiatives to Watch

Director, Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation

It’s been a busy few months for health care advocacy, given the numerous health care-related provisions in the budget deal to keep the government open and the release of the president’s proposed budget which contains cuts to health and social services. But amidst all of the political commotion, we’ve seen several bipartisan (and one nonpartisan) initiatives form to promote proactive approaches to improve health care delivery. Here are four efforts that are on our radar screen:

Senator Cassidy’s Bipartisan Workgroup on Healthcare Transparency

Announced: March 1

Who’s involved: Sens. Cassidy (R-LA), Young (R-IN), Grassley (R-IA), Bennet (D-CO), Carper (D-DE) and McCaskill (D-MO)

What is it: The group announced they are seeking stakeholders’ feedback to help craft legislation to make health care market pricing more transparent. The workgroup is interested in information that consumers have, or should have, on prices, transparency and cost. Responses are due March 23.

Why pay attention: Though it’s early, this seems to be an area where there could be some good, consensus-driven improvements.

Bottom line: Focusing on a relatively narrow topic gives this effort some chance to score a few small “wins,” but it’s unlikely to change health care as we know it.

Governors’ Bipartisan Blueprint for Improving Our Nation’s Health System Performance

Announced: Feb. 23

Who’s involved: Govs. Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kasich (R-OH), Sandoval (R-NV), Walker (I-AK) and Wolf (D-PA)

What is it: Guiding principles focused on affordability, insurance market stability, state flexibility and innovation, and regulatory relief. Strategies include a focus on value, primary care, accountability for “end to end” cost, consumer incentives, competition and Medicaid innovation. We’re intrigued by a mention of incorporating social determinants of health and measuring health and social outcomes in Medicaid.

Why pay attention: Hickenlooper and Kasich have spearheaded multiple bipartisan efforts by governors in the past year on healthcare, including Medicaid and CHIP financing. They’ve been able to rally other governors to their cause and have pull on both sides of the aisle, so we may see some of these ideas crop up in state or federal initiatives.

Bottom line: Kasich and Hickenlooper continue a productive partnership, while dispelling rumors of a bipartisan 2020 presidential ticket.

United States of Care

Announced: Feb. 6

Who’s involved: Former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt and an impressive roster of over 50 big names

What is it: A new group founded on three principles: every American should have an affordable regular source of care for themselves and their families; all Americans should be protected from financial devastation because of illness or injury; and policies to achieve these aims must be fiscally responsible and win the political support needed to ensure long-term stability. The group plans a series of listening events before coming up with policy specifics.

Why pay attention: Lots of buzz (inside the beltway anyway).

Bottom line: Many details TBD, but we’re rooting for them.

New Healthcare Company Formed by Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon and JP Morgan

Announced: Jan. 30

Who’s involved: Three corporate titans, who together have 1.2 million employees

What is it: The three companies are forming an independent health care company for their American employees. They will focus first on technology as a way to provide simplified, affordable access to medical services. It’s still to be seen whether they have the scale and skill to tackle the challenges of transforming the health care system.

Why pay attention: These three companies, particularly Amazon, are known as industry disruptors.

Bottom line: What happens when an unstoppable force (industry disruptors fired up about healthcare costs) meets an immovable object (the healthcare-industrial complex)? We’re about to find out…

What do you think is next for these four initiatives - smooth sailing or icebergs? Tweet us @CCEHI to share your thoughts!