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The past few years have been difficult for states, given rising insurance premiums, weak labor markets, budget shortfalls, and other problems. Despite these pressures, many states have come up with innovative strategies for stretching health care dollars and improving the quality of care.

In addition to expanding coverage through Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and other programs, states have found ways—particularly through public-private partnerships—to more effectively purchase care, better manage diseases, and promote cost-effective primary and preventive health services.

These strategies are outlined in a recent series of reports prepared by the Economic and Social Research Institute for The Commonwealth Fund, Stretching State Dollars in Difficult Economic Times. To keep track of these and other interesting efforts, the Fund is inaugurating a newsletter, States in Action: A Quarterly Look at Innovations in Health Policy, to identify and describe innovative state programs across the country.

Our first issue highlights strategies for purchasing care, building on employer-based coverage, and expanding county-based coverage. Future issues will examine efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of care and continue to spotlight strategies to expand coverage. We will be highlighting existing programs as well as new initiatives.

We welcome those involved in state efforts to expand coverage and improve care and efficiency to let us know about their efforts at [email protected].

We hope policymakers, administrators, and researchers across the country will find these newsletters useful resources as they work to stretch health care dollars and meet the needs of their residents.

To tell us how we can improve upon this newsletter, please take a short online survey. If you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, visit our sign-up page or send an e-mail to [email protected].

This States in Action quarterly newsletter is part of a new Commonwealth Fund initiative on State Innovations. The initiative aims to increase understanding about state health system performance, identify and measure the effects of policies intended to improve performance, and spread information about promising practices.

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