[MMA News Now, Feb. 13, 2014]
The MMA testified Feb. 11 before a newly formed Health Care Costs Legislative Working Group.
The non-partisan group was formed by Representatives Laurie Halvorson (DFL-Eagan) and Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) to help prepare and educate lawmakers about health care costs, spending and innovations. In addition to the MMA, the group heard from the Minnesota Department of Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, the Northwest Metro Alliance (Allina/HealthPartners collaborative), the Minnesota Hospital Association, Care Providers of Minnesota, and Aging Services of Minnesota during its initial two meetings.
Janet Silversmith, MMA’s director of health policy, provided the group with information about the proportion of Minnesota health spending on physician services (19 percent), and urged the committee to be sensitive to the external forces that can drive up the cost of delivering care, such as administrative burdens, regulatory compliance, and quality measurement and reporting.
She informed the group about one of MMA’s efforts to address health care spending increases through local implementation of the Choosing Wisely®
initiative, which is aimed at improving physician-patient communication about unnecessary tests and procedures. She also told the group that new payment and delivery models, such as health care homes, accountable care organizations and total cost of care arrangements, represent a shift in how physicians approach care delivery. Such models call for provider organizations to manage the health and cost of care for a population of patients. This role requires physicians to delicately balance their ethical obligation to work in the best interests of their individual patients with their professional responsibility to be wise stewards of resources for the community. She reminded legislators that such a shift is challenging in the face of tradition, training and organizational culture.
“The MMA urges continued experimentation of new models of care delivery and payment, recognizing the limits of some models in rural and underserved communities,” Silversmith told the group. “Despite the flurry of activity and interest in ACOs and total cost of care arrangements, it is important to remember that the evidence of their effectiveness in improving quality and controlling costs is currently very limited.”