Bipartisan governors group reveals plan to end health reform stalemate

By shifting into value-based care and taking action to stop rising costs, Congress could improve the affordability of healthcare and promote state innovation, the governors say.
By Jessica Davis
03:49 PM
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Bipartisan governors health reform

From left, Govs. John Kasich, R-Ohio, John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado and Bill Walker, I-Alaska talking about their healthcare blueprint for states on Feb. 23. Credit: C-span

A bipartisan group of governors is offering Congress a blueprint to fix the healthcare system and break the political stalemate that has plagued the industry under the Trump administration.

The plan could make healthcare reform possible without partisan splits in Congress, which, at the moment, continually derail any hope for a possible resolution. If implemented, the governors said their plan could improve affordability, increase value-based care and promote state innovation.

Govs. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, John Kasich, R-Ohio, Bill Walker, I-Alaska, Brian Sandoval, R-Nevada and Tom Wolf, D-Pennsylvania outlined six strategies to improve the current state of healthcare, including the need to align consumer incentives, shift into value-based care and modernize the relationship between state and federal governments.

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As the plan is bipartisan, the governors said it could become a boon for negotiation.

“The healthcare debate is far from over and governors have become leading voices,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “We must balance our most urgent priorities, while taking a bipartisan, transparent approach to finding long-term solutions.”

To accomplish this, healthcare must continue its shift away from quantity-based care, the governors said at a press conference on Friday. Indeed, value-based care is the crux of the governors’ plan.

“We don’t want to pay for quantity in medicine, we want to pay for quality,” said Kasich. And the stagnant conversations in Congress, to Kasich, feels “like healthcare doesn’t even matter anymore down here.”

Congress needs to take action to stop rising healthcare costs, Kasich said, or risk ending up with a two-tier system wherein the rich have access to good healthcare and the poor don’t.

To avoid this, Kasich stressed that there needs to be market-based incentives that help the shift away from fee-for-service medicine. The governor lauded Ohio’s program, which pays its primary care providers bonuses for providing “better care at a lower price.”

The governors’ plan urges Congress to work with states and commit to value-based healthcare. Further, the government should incentivize patients who live healthier lives and contribute toward healthcare costs.

The group is also pushing Congress to encourage competition between local hospital systems and pharmaceutical companies, which will reform insurance markets. And Affordable Care Act insurer payments should be reinstituted to maximize the number of insurers participating.

President Donald Trump canceled those payments last year.

The governors’ proposal comes on the heels of multiple Congressional attempts to make any progress on healthcare reform and numerous Republican failures to repeal and replace the ACA last year.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com