For Health Reform: Affordable, Accessible, Accountable
For Health Reform Cover (link to report)

TASK FORCE MEMBERS

Governor Jim Douglas
Co-Chair, Vermont
Governor Joe Manchin
Co-Chair, West Virginia
Governor Mitch Daniels
Indiana
Governor Haley Barbour
Mississippi
Governor John Lynch
New Hampshire
Governor Ted Kulongoski
Oregon


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State Summit on Health Reform
Task Force Member Panel (From left to right: Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, TIME National Political Correspondent Karen Tumulty.)

NGA Chair Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, NGA Vice Chair West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds shared their perspectives on state-based health reform opportunities and challenges, as well as their reactions to potential federal health reforms, during a Governors Roundtable on Health Reform March 15 in Washington, D.C. Moderated by TIME magazine journalist Karen Tumulty, the panel kicked off the NGA State Summit on Health Reform. The two-day summit, attended by 49 state teams from across the country, is part of the Rx for Health Reform: Affordable, Accessible, Accountable initiative.
Message from NGA Chair Vermont Gov. Douglas

Governor Jim DouglasThe nation stands poised to dramatically reform our health care system. As Congress considers a major health care overhaul, the time is right for governors to define their roles in developing a more coordinated and efficient system to reduce the cost of health care and improve access to quality care.

The need for reform is critical. Regardless of whether the “payer” is the government or private insurance, we are all going to pay more—in increased taxes, increased premiums, or both—unless we can get a handle on spiraling health care costs. We cannot afford to sustain our existing level of health care spending.

During this current economic crisis, the number of uninsured continues to rise. The cost of care for families without insurance is too great, and they often stand on the brink of economic disaster. When these bills cannot be paid, the costs are passed on to the insured.

Further, we are not guaranteed high-quality, efficient, and coordinated care, even when we pay more. Our current delivery system encourages inefficiencies and duplicative services. The system does not reward for the quality of care delivered, but rather pays for the amount of care provided.

We can begin to address these challenges. Vermont, for example, has successfully implemented comprehensive health reform that incorporates aspects of high-quality, coordinated care along with expanding coverage to the uninsured.

Our innovative Blueprint for Health initiative has developed care teams that provide coordinated services through multiple providers. We are changing the way we pay for care to encourage primary and preventive services, as well as sharing costs across hospitals and doctors to promote coordination.

Along with the promotion of health information exchange and involving Vermonters in their health care decisions, we are changing the way we think about health care by providing our residents with affordable coverage while improving the care they receive.

Other states also have made strides to enhance the quality of care delivered through chronic disease management, care coordination, health IT, and prevention initiatives. These programs have improved the care received and are moving to address the excess spending in the system.

We must come together to deliver on the promise of comprehensive health reform. My initiative offers an opportunity to identify governors’ roles as leaders in addressing the key cost drivers, improving the quality of our system, and providing more insurance coverage. This initiative will inform governors and create a blueprint for broad health reform, helping states to assess their current structure and plan for the future.

Together, we can forge a new outlook on the health system that will lead us to the care Americans deserve.


Gov. James H. Douglas, Vermont
National Governors Association Chair, 2009–2010