So far Senator Joshua Miller’s efforts to reform health care and reduce costs is getting a thumbs-up from those who know this is a complicated issue with many players.
“It is quite a comprehensive piece of legislation,” said Steven DeToy, lobbyist for the Rhode Island Medical Society (RIMS). “It touches on many of the key issues that need to be addressed. It is going to take a while for all of us to sort through this information.”
Miller wasn’t thinking this was going to be easy.
“There have been previous legislators or policy makers that have embraced singular components of this bill,” said Miller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, during a phone interview. “What makes this bill different is it embraces a series of reforms that can stand alone well as singular bills but work well together as a series as well.”
The 17-page bill, which has been referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, features a number of proposed reforms and reads “this act aims to reduce costs, improve transparency and enhance investments in Rhode Island health care system while providing opportunities for innovation in the delivery of health care services.”
Among the proposed reforms are the establishment of standards and incentives for transitioning from traditional fee-for-service payments to alternative models; the establishment of disclosure requirements for hospital pay and compensation, advertising and marketing; allowing the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner to oversee a rate disclosure process for hospital provider contracts to ensure rates are reasonable and justifiable and the establishment of additional reporting and transparency requirements for hospitals’ adverse medical errors.
“I applaud Senator Miller for introducing this wide-reaching legislation, which will move Rhode Island forward toward a more sustainable, high quality and affordable health care system,” said Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts in a statement.
Miller believes these reforms will move Rhode Island to the forefront of health care in the country. “This legislation connects the dots between consumers, insurers and providers, solidifying health care choice, transparency, payment reform, and system improvements with a focus on health outcomes,” he said in a press release.
“Health care is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle,” said DeToy. “The senator has taken on a lot of those pieces.”
In order to form a formal stance on the legislation, DeToy will now pass the bill along to fellow leadership within RIMS.
“We are going to want to be involved in the discussion,” said Detoy. He adds that whenever a hearing is announced, he believes RIMS will be ready to voice its opinion.
Robert’s office expressed the lieutenant governor’s intentions to continue her support of the act.
“The lieutenant governor has been excited to work with Senator Miller throughout the development of this landmark bill and will continue to support Sen. Miller’s efforts during the legislative process, including advocating for the bill at committee hearings,” said Maria Tocco, director of public and community relations for the Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, in an e-mail.
In addition to reforming health care for families, Miller believes this act will help reduce the cost of doing business in the state, a priority identified within the “Moving The Needle” report.
“In order to take advantage, small employers and patients need the information this act provides,” he said, explaining that the act’s ability to provide information and transparency regarding health care allows employers the opportunity to choose more cost-effective options.
The Health Care Reform Act will build off of previous legislation, including payment reforms, patient centered medical homes and electronic health records. Reports have shown that the state’s efforts have garnered results. According to the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, since 2007 there has been an 18 percent decline in the state’s medical spending and an increase of 8 percent in medical claims dollars spent on primary care by insurers.