McKee proposes health care spending watchdog program

GOV. DANIEL J. MCKEE is proposing creation of a Health Spending Accountability and Transparency program that would cost $500,000 and be included in his fiscal 2023 budget proposal. /PBN PHOTO/CASSIUS SHUMAN

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Daniel J. McKee is proposing a Health Spending Accountability and Transparency program he says could help health care insurers and providers limit the growing costs of care.

The program is part of McKee’s fiscal 2023 budget. It would cost $500,000 and be paid for from federal pandemic aid, the governor’s office said on Wednesday.

It would be overseen by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, who would work in partnership with stakeholders, businesses and community advocates in collecting and analyzing health care spending data to inform actions designed to slow spending growth.

The would include publication of insurer and provider performance information on health care cost growth, actions for curbing growth and improving health care access and quality.

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“Reducing the costs of health care for small businesses and Rhode Island families is more important now than ever before,” said McKee. “The Health Spending Accountability and Transparency Program is essential for finding innovative and effective solutions to making health care affordable for all Rhode Islanders.”

McKee said the program is consistent with his Rhode Island 2030 Plan priorities to support small businesses through more affordable premiums and less burdensome, out-of-pocket health care costs for employees, promoting conditions supportive of investments in public health and wellness.

Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said the Health Spending Accountability and Transparency Program “will allow us the opportunity to look holistically at the system, analyze data and tailor solutions to help Rhode Islanders access affordable and quality healthcare.”

Health Insurance Commissioner Patrick Tigue said, “Rhode Island has made significant progress in containing health care costs in recent years, but despite these efforts the cost of health care is still a burden to many Rhode Island working families. This program provides our state with a critical opportunity to find and address the key health care cost growth drivers and translate those findings into innovative solutions to lower health care costs for consumers.”

Tigue said the effects of the pandemic and concurrent changes in the economy will place increasing upward pressure on health care costs for years to come.

“It is now more important than ever that we establish a program to hold health care entities accountable for cost growth to ensure that working families enjoy access to affordable, high-quality health care,” he said.

The data analysis produced by the program would be designed to motivate the actions of private health care entities, and provide actionable data for the state legislature to make policies and pass legislation that addresses the causes of excessive health care spending growth, according to McKee.

Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Shuman@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @CassiusShuman.

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