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DHSS releases Health Care Benchmark Trend Report

The Department of Health and Social Services presents the state’s second annual Benchmark Trend Report to the Health Care Commission.

The report shows trends in the state’s health care spending and quality, comparing new 2020 data against a set benchmark- and baseline data from 2019.

In 2020, the spending benchmark was 3.5%, and it was hit by the state as the 2020 Total Health Care Expenditures per-capita change for the prior year was at about -1.2%.

Total Health Care Expenditures increased by $39 million in 2020 totaling $8.1 billion, but with the state’s population increasing 1.7% the per-capita total decreased in 2020 as compared to 2019.

DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik says a major reason for those changes was the pandemic, and that makes comparisons with previous years very difficult

As for health quality, Magarik says the report hit on a few areas.

“We still have a large number of Delawareans that are obese,” said Magarik. “So obesity is still an issue, and we really underscore the work of the Lieutenant Governor's Behavioral Health Consortium and their focus on helping doctors and providers move away from prescribing the high dose opiates. And then we're always watching overdose deaths."

DHSS Director of Health Care Reform Steven Costantino says the report helps deliver transparency.

"In order to lower cost you kind of have to know where the costs are. So that's a critical piece in all of this, and at that point it drives where we should really emphasize the kind of health care reforms and changing the system from a volume-based system to a value-based system where Delawareans are getting the best out of the health care that's provided to them," said Costantino.

There was improvement in the percentage of patients receiving beta-blocker treatment after a heart attack even though Medicaid patients didn’t hit the benchmark set for 2020.

For more on health care spending and quality benchmarks, you can go to the Health Care Commission’s website.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.