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State Senator

Matt Lesser

Representing Cromwell, Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield

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Sen. Lesser Joins Fellow State Lawmakers as Gov. Lamont Signs Executive Orders Reducing Healthcare Costs for Connecticut Families

Senator Lesser

MIDDLETOWN, CT – Today, from the offices of ProHealth Physicians, state Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) applauded Governor Ned Lamont announcement that he has signed two executive orders that will directly address healthcare costs, primary care spending, and quality of care for individuals, businesses, and state government. The senator also spoke, in the room full of medical professionals and media, about the need for these executive orders to lower the cost of healthcare.

“The unsustainable growth in the cost of healthcare is breaking America's economy. One of the commonsense proposals that came out of last year's healthcare reform legislation is the idea of setting up a healthcare cost growth benchmark to get the data to figure out why costs keep rising," said Sen. Lesser, who is also the Senate Chair of the legislature's Insurance and Real Estate Committee. "This won't fix healthcare overnight, but it will make a meaningful difference over time. We know this because this is something that has already worked in Massachusetts. I've been urging Governor Lamont to issue an Executive Order to get this done - and I'm thrilled to support him in unveiling this new initiative.”

The orders direct the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) to establish statewide healthcare cost growth and quality benchmarks and a primary care spending target, and the Department of Social Services (DSS) to improve public transparency of Medicaid costs and quality. Similar benchmarks in Massachusetts have saved healthcare consumers more than $5 billion since 2013.

Gov. Lamont signed the orders during a ceremony at the offices of ProHealth Physicians in Middletown, where he was joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, OHS Executive Director Vicki Veltri, DSS Commissioner Deidre Gifford, state lawmakers, and business and community leaders. ProHealth Physicians is an accountable care organization.

“While several independent studies rank Connecticut’s healthcare system near the top nationwide, our state also ranks sixth nationally for healthcare spending and has significant health disparities that we must address,” Governor Lamont said. “Getting these costs under control will help strengthen economic development and will help us attract and retain a talented workforce. These executive orders address major cost drivers and quality concerns for individuals, businesses, and in state spending. They expand on our continuing efforts to constrain medical costs, and will improve healthcare quality in the state.”

One of the executive orders – Executive Order No. 5 – directs OHS to:

  • Develop annual healthcare cost growth benchmarks by December 2020 for calendar years 2021-2025;
  • Set targets for increased primary care spending as a percentage of total healthcare spending to reach 10 percent by 2025;
  • Develop quality benchmarks across all public and private payers beginning in 2022, including clinical quality measures, over/under utilization measures, and patient safety measures;
  • Monitor and report annually on healthcare spending growth across public and private payers;
  • Convene a cost benchmark technical advisory team within 30 days; and Monitor accountable care organizations and the adoption of alternative payment models.
  • OHS is the state agency responsible under state statutes for developing and implementing a comprehensive and cohesive healthcare vision for the state, including a statewide cost containment strategy.

The second order – Executive Order No. 6 – directs DSS to convene an advisory board that will bolster ongoing efforts at DSS to control costs and increase quality of care standards for Medicaid (also known as HUSKY Health), a program that accounts for over 20 percent of state expenditures. Under the executive order, DSS will:

  • Develop a transparency strategy for Medicaid cost and quality by December 2020 that examines performance over time and compares that to other state Medicaid programs;
  • Convene an advisory board to provide input to the agency on the content and goals for the reporting;
  • Establish strategic interventions for Medicaid members that improve outcomes and reduce health disparities; and
  • Continue to monitor adoption of Medicaid cost, quality, and transparency reporting.
  • The advisory board will include the executive director of OHS; the commissioners of the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Children and Families, and Department of Developmental Services; the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management; one or more members served by Connecticut HUSKY Health; representatives of Medicaid-enrolled providers; and experts in quality measurement and reporting.

The executive orders precede the upcoming 2020 legislative session, during which several bills addressing healthcare costs are also anticipated to be introduced by the Lamont administration and several legislators.

Lt. Governor Bysiewicz said, “Connecticut must take a strategic and comprehensive approach to controlling healthcare costs. I applaud Governor Lamont for signing these orders. By establishing healthcare and quality benchmarks and working to improve cost and quality transparency in Medicaid, we are using additional tools to rein in healthcare spending.”

Executive Director Veltri said, “We know how effective this is in other states. Establishing statewide healthcare cost growth benchmarks reins in healthcare spending. Healthcare costs are a major problem for our residents and employers, far outpacing wage growth – over the past 15 years, families saw the cost of healthcare rise by 77 percent while median wage only went up by 21 percent. Taking a broader approach through statewide annual healthcare cost growth benchmarks and ensuring we prioritize primary care spending will help better coordinate care and head off higher cost services – it is good for families, businesses, and the state. As important as controlling the rate of cost growth, ensuring better healthcare quality for all residents is key to getting better value for our healthcare dollar.”

Commissioner Gifford said, “We are proud that Connecticut’s Medicaid program is already in the national forefront of care quality measures and cost containment while serving over 800,000 residents of all ages. Governor Lamont is directing us to take this success further by increasing transparency and accountability throughout the Medicaid system. The ultimate goal is health equity and better health for Medicaid/HUSKY members and their families and communities.”

State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), ranking member of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said, “Connecticut residents deserve healthcare that is affordable and accessible. Far too many people struggle every day to pay their medical bills or go without needed care and treatment. That is unacceptable. Over the last few months, I’ve worked in a bipartisan group with the governor’s office, Insurance Committee leaders, and OHS to further explore the benefits of healthcare cost growth benchmarking policies that have yielded positive results for Massachusetts. Healthcare affordability needs to be tackled with a multipronged approach that includes controlling the growth of expenses. I applaud the governor’s work to advance these bipartisan efforts and get a head start on increasing transparency and get control of rising healthcare costs.”

State Representative Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said, “Families and businesses in Connecticut are fed up with the seemingly endless rise in the cost of their healthcare and today’s executive orders are a giant step in the direction of reining in runaway healthcare costs. Through setting a benchmark and holding all healthcare stakeholders accountable to a statewide goal of cost reduction, we can make healthcare more affordable for the people of this state. Governor Lamont has been a true leader when it comes to healthcare reform and I’m proud to partner with him and colleagues from both sides of the aisle on innovative ideas such as this to lower the cost of healthcare in Connecticut.”

Patricia Baker, President and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, said, “Focusing on quality and cost is a critical step in reducing Connecticut’s significant racial and ethnic health disparities. Cost has become a major barrier in keeping people from receiving healthcare when they need it. Measuring and monitoring care quality will allow us to identify the best outcomes and to pinpoint and address disparities. In addition, emphasizing primary care is important as research has linked having a usual source of care to reducing disparities. Connecticut is wise to adopt strategies from other states as we work to make this a state in which everyone can be as healthy as possible.”

Paul Grady, principal at Alera Group and board member of the Connecticut Business Group on Health, said, “Today’s actions will result in bringing all of the stakeholders – private and public – together to work collaboratively to develop and execute a strategy that controls healthcare spending and improves health and healthcare quality.”

Download: Download: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 6

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