By Mary Branham
The epicenter of the health care debate is in Washington, D.C., these days, but the ripple effects of any Congressional action are sure to affect states.
And state officials have several priorities for any kind of reform, said Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, an independent academy of state health policymakers.
He said leaders want to connect people with the services they need, bring better coordination and integration in the health care system, improve care for people with complex conditions, orient the health care system toward results and promote a more efficient health care system.
Weil spoke at the health policy workshop, “Will Health Care Get a Facelift?” Thursday afternoon.
Weil said states have five needs in implementing reform. They’ll need to know what is in the legislation, if and when it passes. They need to support strategic and implementation planning, he said. In addition, states will need topic-specific technical assistance and will need to focus on communication, both internally and with the federal government.
“States will benefit if all these efforts are coordinated with what they’re doing now in terms of their own health agendas and some of the existing efforts,” he said.
And, said Jane Cline, West Virginia’s insurance commissioner, states will face challenges in dealing with the costs.
“States do not have an extra $600 billion lying around,” she said.
For insurance commissioners, the most important aspects of the bill would be the sweeping reforms to improve access and equity.
“Insurance market reforms promise to make health insurance fairer, more transparent and more available,” she said. But those reforms would come with a price, she said.