Colorado health care commission recommends more transparent prices to control costs

Second report by Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care says there are no easy solutions, November 15, 2016

By John Ingold | jingold@denverpost.com       

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/11/15/colorado-health-care-commission-transparent-prices-control-costs/

A state commission working on ways to reduce the cost of health care in Colorado says greater transparency in pricing would help patients avoid costly doctors’ visits.

That is just one of more than a dozen recommendations that the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care sent to lawmakers and the governor Tuesday in its second annual report. The commission’s first report, issued last year, found that Coloradans’ spending on health care had quadrupled over the past two decades. This year, the commission held seven public meetings across the state in the hopes of finding ways to control runaway health care costs.

The result is a 66-page report that does little to sugarcoat the daunting challenge.

“There are no simple solutions,” the commission’s report states. “The drivers of health care cost growth are complex and multifaceted. … Improving efficiency and reducing costs in health care in Colorado will require extraordinary public leadership, political courage, and a commitment from the public and private sectors.”

Among the commission’s most notable recommendations:

  • Create more transparency in health care pricing and value by supporting efforts to post cost and outcome data on websites such as the state’s existing All Payer Claims Database. Consumers could use the data to better manage their care.

  • Start a transparency pilot project for state employees to determine the best ways to get information to consumers in order to control costs.

  • Expand the number of health care professionals, especially in rural areas and those who work in primary care.

  • Encourage state agencies to work together to address social issues — like poverty and education — that can have a long-term impact on health.

  • Work with federal lawmakers on issues such as drug pricing.

The commission was created by the state legislature in 2014. It is made up of 12 members representing health care providers, insurers, researchers and consumers.

“There are no easy answers,” Bill Lindsay, the commission’s chairman, said in a statement accompanying the report’s release to the public. “These recommendations, developed over 27 months and with the input of Coloradans across the Centennial State, should help our state start to confront this problem.”