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States poised to be leaders on cost control in health care

A new report from the Center for American Progress outlines how states are well-positioned to be leaders in implementing policies to help control health care costs and improve quality. Many of the reforms available to states—such as setting a health care cost growth goal or establishing a statewide scorecard—can be accomplished at little to no cost but are capable of making a big impact. Others, such as scaling evidence-based home visiting statewide, require upfront investments but then pay for themselves in future cost savings. States are natural leaders in this space, since they have considerable authority over the regulation of health insurance and the provision of health care within their borders.

As CAP notes in the report, a number of states are already innovating in this area and seeing positive results for local government, health care providers and payers, and consumers. Maryland and Massachusetts are among the state leaders in setting forth cost control reforms, but they are not alone in improving the quality and sustainability of their health care systems. With health care costs projected to grow faster than the overall economy, CAP’s report details how nearly two dozen other states are undertaking efforts to alleviate this pressure on their budgets and services.

“We know the Affordable Care Act is working, but we need to do more to sustain the slowdown. Otherwise, spending on health care will continue to crowd out other important investments,” said Topher Spiro, Vice President for Health Policy at CAP. “States should seize these opportunities to provide better care at lower cost.”

The report includes a comprehensive summary of options for state governments to consider and examples of how some states are already putting these ideas into action. Read the full report, “State Options to Control Health Care Costs and Improve Quality” by Zeke Emanuel, Joshua Sharfstein, Topher Spiro, and Meghan O’Toole, online here.