We're working to control healthcare costs (Wayne Smith)
Mr. Smith heads the Delaware Healthcare Association, which among other things represents DE hospitals, and is a former state legislator. "Imagine a state Medicaid program featuring high-quality acute care, extensive work with patients for preventive and primary care, and costs per patient that are below inflation for a decade." And that's not a fantasy, "that's Delaware now." Hospitals, physicians and payers [insurance companies, government, in some cases patients?] are getting high risk patients into primary and preventive care, minimizing the risk of catastrophic illness. As a result, "cost increases associated with the average Medicaid patient [have moderated] due] to the transformation that is taking place in healthcare." Indeed, "Medicaid costs per member have increased less than 1 per cent per year from fiscal year 2009 through" the most recent year for which CMMS data are available. State expenditures for Medicaid have kept rising, but that's because more Delawareans are participating in the program. State hospitals are "fully engaged in the policy development process with DHSS Secretary Kara Odom Walker (scroll down for her perspective). Moderating healthcare costs versus other states will be complicated by several factors: On average, Delawareans are older - in part due to "very low property tax rates and absence of state taxation on the first $25,000 [actually $12,500 per pensioner] of retirement income," which makes DE an attractive retirement destination for seniors of moderate means. Other problems: higher than average number of low weight births, Delawareans above the national average for diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, and [lack of] exercise. Focus on treatment versus wellness has been overdone, parents need to encourage their kids to turn off the devices and go out and play as well as considering "their own unhealthy life choices and [making] better ones." DE hospitals, etc. have been actively partnering with the state government in efforts to achieve better results. "We certainly look forward to working with Secretary Walker, the governor and the General Assembly in continuing to advance the revolution underway in payment reform, data availability and transparency, care management, population health and the delivery of high-value for our patients." In this regard, "ideas like a benchmark are certainly worthy of discussion" and "Delaware's hospitals are active participants in the debate round all policy issues that seek to produce positive and sustainable change." Reading between the lines, Smith isn't sold on the transformative powers of healthcare benchmarking (the state government's much-publicized label for its efforts to slow the growth of healthcare costs for Delawareans).