Motivated by the desire to stem the growing cost of health coverage for public employees, Washington State's King County Executive formed the Puget Sound Health Alliance, an organization of stakeholders that includes payers, purchasers, providers, and consumers. The Alliance's goal is to develop reforms to promote high-quality, evidence-based medicine and purchasing that will also address rising health costs. The Alliance is using its broad market share to encourage providers and insurers to offer better value to consumers, and giving consumers tools to manage their care more effectively. While other organizations around the country have brought together purchasers and payers, the Alliance is unusual in that it also includes providers and patients.
West Virginia has redesigned its Medicaid program to offer alternative benefit packages that create incentives for beneficiaries to take responsibility for their own health and health care.
The Rhode Island Health Information Exchange initiative is a public-private effort to allow providers, with their patients' permission, to electronically access important patient health information from a variety of sources.
In a case that many states have been watching closely, a federal judge overturned the Fair Share Act, a Maryland law requiring businesses with 10,000 or more employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care or contribute to a state fund for the uninsured.
With gubernatorial elections coming up this November, health care is heating up as one of the key issues in many states.
Given the lack of major health reform at the national level and the momentum created by new reform measures passed by Kentucky, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and others, there is growing bipartisan support among federal legislators for states to serve as "learning laboratories."