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First State taking first steps toward creating a healthcare spending benchmark


At a town hall this week, state health officials outlined a broad plan to move towards a more outcome-driven system.

Gov. John Carney (D-Delaware) signed a resolution in September directing Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker to work with stakeholders to propose a healthcare spending benchmark to rein in the costs.

The state health care expenses are currently growing faster than the state’s economy. Delaware spends more per person on healthcare than all other states, besides Alaska and Massachusetts, but ranks 31st in overall health.

“Greater than 30% of the state’s budget is going towards healthcare. So we have a collective responsibility to make sure we’re saying ‘we can’t grow faster than the state’s economy any longer in healthcare.’ It’s pushing out other important investments,” said Walker.

The resolution designates 2018 as a planning year for the healthcare budget.

Officials want to move away from a system that pays for care based solely on the number of hospital room days, doctor visits, procedures and tests.

“The way that we traditionally pay for care is: if you’re sick, you get care. You show up at the doctor’s office, or the hospital or the emergency room, and we pay for that visit. We have not yet figured out a way—across the country—to pay for better health,” said Walker.

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