Delaware works to reduce healthcare spending
Gov. John Carney signed into law plans for an annual healthcare benchmark Thursday.
The resolution calls for creation of a plan to gather data with the ultimate goal of reducing the state’s healthcare costs. Right now, the state itself spends about 30 percent of its annual budget on healthcare.
Reducing that spending is a priority for Delaware Health Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker. She says Delaware’s healthcare costs are the third highest in the country.
“That’s when you take into account spending on everything: hospitals, nursing homes, everything," Walker said. "And the only two states higher than us are Massachusetts and Alaska.”
And she adds it’s not just one factor contributing to that figure, with high costs across the board for hospitals, nursing homes, home healthcare and other healthcare sectors.
“So I think we just have a lot of opportunity to reorient what we’re doing and try to figure out how to get people into primary care services and out of the emergency rooms and out of our hospitals," Walker said.
Walker says it’s important for the state to focus on quality healthcare as well. Delaware currently ranks 31st for quality healthcare, and studies have shown at least 50% of First State patients aren’t receiving appropriate care.
The benchmark will also address payment reform and will consider the Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Council forecasts and projections.
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long is a big supporter of the bill.
“So this is just a tool in a toolkit to begin to really look at health outcomes and health measures and performance outcomes," Hall-Long said.
She sees the benchmark as building on – and expanding – the work of the Delaware Health Care Claims Database that was established during Gov. Markell’s administration.
Several healthcare summits are planned over the next few months to start addressing rising healthcare costs.