Washington State’s Health Care Cost and Transparency Board, made up of state agency representatives, consumer representatives and others, continues to discuss levers and strategies the state might employ to reduce the growth in health care spending. Created by the legislature, the Board has set a goal for growth of only 3.2 percent or below for 2022 compared to the base year, 2021. The benchmark rate applies to spending in the state as a whole, as well as to individual health plans, hospitals and providers. The legislature also charged this board with determining cost drivers for the state, and that work will begin this spring with an analysis of the state’s all payers claims data base.
In March, Eric Lewis, WSHA’s Chief Financial Officer, testified and requested the Board re-evaluate the cost cap. Mike Marsh, CEO from Overlake and WSHA member, and Dr. Mika Sinanan, a physician at the University of Washington Medical Center and Washington State Medical Association President, both participated in the Board’s April 6 advisory committee discussions. The advisory committee strongly recommended the Board consider adverse consequences of any newly proposed cost control strategy along with the Board’s previously adopted criteria. During the April 6 meeting, Mike and Mika repeatedly emphasized the difficulties hospitals and providers face this year dealing with Covid and high inflation rates. The committee heard that the Board understands these issues and will consider making adjustments in the future but is retaining the 3.2 percent growth benchmark for now. (Andrew Busz, firstname.lastname@example.org)