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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

December 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

State wins $65 million grant for health-care effort

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that Washington state has been awarded a $65 million federal grant to fund an effort to deliver better health care more efficiently.

The four-year grant will help implement the state’s Health Care Innovation Plan beginning in February, and the effort — dubbed Healthier Washington — will be led by the state’s Health Care Authority (HCA), which manages the Medicaid program. Washington is one of 11 states that will share $622 million granted by the U.S. government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to implement a health-care innovation program.

The project began with a $1 million State Innovation Model grant that assembled a group of stakeholders, including representatives from state and local government, public health, delivery systems, business, health plans, consumer groups, labor, tribal entities, providers and community organizations. That effort resulted in the plan to reform health care, which has been endorsed by a who’s who list of Washington’s health-care leaders.

“I want every family to have access to affordable, effective health care, a healthy environment and an opportunity to learn so they and their kids thrive,” Inslee said in a statement.

“Washington has an entrepreneurial spirit that uniquely positions us to improve health for our residents,” he said. “There has never been a state more determined to innovate the way it delivers health care. The Healthier Washington project provides the necessary strategy and investments to accelerate change.”

Some key pieces of the Healthier Washington effort include better integrating physical and mental health and the treatment of substance abuse. It also calls for improved transparency in the cost of medical procedures to help consumers shop for the best and most affordable care. And it tries to link a patient’s health outcome to the payment of doctors and hospitals.

“By transforming the way we pay for and deliver health care, our state will experience better health, better care and lower costs,”  HCA director Dorothy Teeter said in a statement. “Healthier Washington will drive accountability to the local level and engage communities and individuals in a new way, benefiting our population’s health and the taxpayer.”

The project’s supporters say a third-party analysis of the effort predicts it could save businesses, government agencies and others who pay for health care roughly $1.05 billion during the four-year project. The savings come primarily through the integration of physical and behavioral health.

Comments | Topics: All-Payer Claims Database, health insurance, mental health

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