Correction issued March 3: The amended bill passed out of committee with a voted of 5-3. A previous version of this story said it passed out of committee unanimously.
A statewide health care claims database could help cut medical costs, people testified Thursday. But the idea was struck from a bill considered by the Senate Health Care Committee.
Several states, including Colorado, have all-payer claims databases that allows comparisons of health care costs throughout the state.
A plan to start a database in Washington was part of House Bill 2572, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) and requested by Gov. Jay Inslee, but committee chair Sen. Randi Becker (R-Enumclaw) removed the idea from the bill with an amendment, saying she expected lawmakers to revisit the topic.
“We’ve taken some things out, and this just keeps the discussion going,” she said. “I fully expect we’ll continue to work on this.
Cody said Washington has been criticized by national groups for how much information is available on health care costs.
“The state got an F from the Catalyst for Payment Reform on our transparency issues,” she said.
Before the committee voted on the amendment, several people testified to the importance of the database.
Yanling Yu of the Washington Advocates for patient safety says the database would help patients manage costs.
“Right now it’s very difficult for consumers to do that. There’s no single source of data where we can get all the information in one place where we can compare the quality and price,” she said.
Rex Johnson of Seattle agreed.
“There’s no question that we the people need this information to make intelligent decisions on our health care,” he said. “This is the type of transparency that we need.”
Patrick Connor of the National Federation of Independent Business says the group supported the original bill and was against Becker’s amendment.
“Each time we come forward asking for more transparency, more access to information, the concerns of the health insurance carriers about not wanting to participate seem to trump those of the consumers who desperately need good information to make informed decisions and help control their health care costs,” he said.
He says other states have no had problems with their databases.
“Not one of these Chicken Little complaints about price setting, price fixing, about the claims data somehow jeopardizing individuals ability to be protected in their privacy have come to pass,” he said.
Becker’s amendment passed. The amended version of the bill passed with a vote of 5-3 (view roll call votes here).
The bill creates regional health care collaboration groups and would allow the Department of Health to develop training, technical assistance and other tools for health care providers.
You can watch the hearing in TVW’s archives.