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Wisconsin scores high marks in transparency report card
A recent survey by Mercer shows that close to two-thirds of all large employers offer a high deductible/high co-insurance health plan. Further, 20 percent of all commercially insured health plan members are enrolled in these types of plans.  With the increasing use of these health plans, it is critical health care consumers have ready access to cost and quality information to make informed decisions.

In a report released March 18, 2013 by the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, Wisconsin received a ‘B’ grade on the Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws.  Wisconsin, along with Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Virginia received ‘Bs’ while only Massachusetts and New Hampshire received ‘As’.  Twenty-nine states were given an 'F' and another seven got a 'D.' 

Caution should be taken when considering these grades, however.  The states were graded on a “curve,” or in relation to one another.  Even states receiving an “A” or “B” grade have a considerable way to go to provide consumers sufficient cost and quality information.  

The research revealed a wide variety of state laws and examined two elements to assign grades: how extensive was the pricing information collected and how accessible was the information to the public.

According to the report, “While the private sector has made progress recently in making prices more available to consumers, there are still large gaps. States can play an important role in ensuring that consumers have access to both quality and price information by setting policies and implementing laws that advance transparency."

This research was limited to assessing state laws as it related to transparency.  In Wisconsin, we have the added benefit of several voluntary organizations striving to improve transparency. The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) contributes significantly to the availability of additional quality information to consumers in our state. In addition, the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO) was formed to improve transparency and is making steady progress toward that goal.

The complete report can be found by clicking here: Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws.

Moving to a common set of value measures across the state
In the October 2012 edition of The Catalyst newsletter we reported on the formation of the Statewide Value (SVC) Committee, a multi-stakeholder group formed to accelerate the improvement of the overall value of health care in Wisconsin by uniting statewide health care organizations. One of the SVC’s first initiatives was the launch of the Wisconsin Measurement Alignment Project (WIMAP) in 2012 to develop a common set of health care performance measures to align the needs of multiple stakeholders.

Support of this initiative is critical in order to develop health care value measurement that is usable by purchasers and consumers to discern outcomes and performance. Additionally, this initiative can lessen the performance reporting burdens of providers, who presently report to numerous governmental, health care purchasing and voluntary organizations.

Led by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ), the WIMAP workgroup is composed of individuals representing payers, purchasers, WCHQ member organizations, and the Wisconsin Departments of Health Services and Employee Trust Funds.  The group has made major strides toward developing a common set of measures which culminated in the completion of the first draft of a common measure scorecard. On April 2, the draft scorecard report was presented to the SVC.  The SVC will assist the workgroup in gathering input from other stakeholders which will be reviewed in June.  Plans call for the development of an implementation team and a timeframe to accomplish next steps.

The goal of the WIMAP initiative is to define and implement the reporting of a common set of data requirements that will meet the needs of all stakeholders, providers, purchasers and consumers alike. The more agreement we can get in defining and reporting value, the further ahead we will be in "moving the market."

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