On May 18, the Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HCCTB) unanimously passed a motion authorizing the Board to seek additional data to inform its work, such as available data from Medicare hospital cost reports. Prior to passing this motion, the Board heard a report about Colorado hospital financial metrics, which raised significant issues with prices and profit margins at Colorado hospitals. Through its motion, the Board indicated they too wanted to be able to use additional data and tools to better understand hospital costs and prices in our state. The Board also heard about staff plans to hire additional data analysts with expenses supported through additional grant funding.
Prior to the Board’s motion, WSHA Vice President Jonathan Bennett raised questions about the Colorado analysis and its applicability to Washington. He noted this same analysis showed Washington had some of the lowest margins per discharge in the country, a very different ranking than Colorado. He also noted other differences between the two states, such as the level of Medicaid payment. While the report’s consultant said cost shift is a myth, Jonathan challenged the notion that Medicaid underpayment isn’t a serious factor for Washington’s providers, since Medicaid is paying less than 65 percent of the costs of care. If the Board decides to move forward with additional analysis, Jonathan said WSHA would like to be able to provide input on how that is done. (Andrew Busz)