December 2, 2013

Whitehouse & RI Health Care Stakeholders Highlight how Health Reforms are Improving Quality of Care and Lowering Spending

Providence, RI – This morning, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts met with leaders of Rhode Island’s health care industry to discuss how key reforms, some of which are part of the Affordable Care Act, are improving health care quality and lowering health spending in the state.

During the roundtable, Representatives from Coastal Medical, Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Quality Institute, Care New England, and the Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative–RI discussed how each of their organizations is working to reform our unsustainable delivery system and payment models.

“While Washington is transfixed by a botched website launch, Rhode Island health care leaders are steadily implementing reforms that improve the quality of care and can lower the cost for Rhode Island patients,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Our state’s leadership on health care reform will help make health care more efficient and affordable. And we built a pretty good website, too!”  

“This roundtable discussion is a tremendous opportunity for innovators in our state’s healthcare industry to discuss how to move our state closer to a sustainable healthcare model,” said Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, Chair of the RI Healthcare Reform Commission. “I’m grateful that Senator Whitehouse embraces meaningful health reform, and supports our efforts to achieve measurable improvement in the health and productivity of all Rhode Islanders, while decreasing the overall cost of care.”

“As the national debate over healthcare reform becomes louder and more politicized, here at Coastal Medical we are doing the daily work of transforming our healthcare delivery system. Our patients now have access to an urgent primary care visit 365 days a year.  They can use the internet to look at their test results, request an appointment, and ask a question of their healthcare team.  Clinical pharmacists, nurse care managers, diabetes educators, and behavioral health providers are working side by side with physicians and nurse practitioners as part of the teams providing care to Coastal patients.  Patients love this new model of care,” said Dr. G. Alan Kurose, President of Coastal Medical.

“There is an unprecedented level of collaboration between providers, insurers and the state as we work to provide more affordable care and to make Rhode Island the healthiest state in the US,” said Peter Andruszkiewicz, President and CEO, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.   “Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is committed to this work. There is more to be done, but Rhode Island can stake a claim as a national leader in this movement.”

“Through strong partnerships in the community, including everyone around this table, CurrentCare, RI’s statewide Health Information Exchange has been built and is already reducing avoidable, expensive duplication of tests and procedures.  This technology infrastructure is supporting delivery system transformation and transparency, improving care coordination, reducing medical error and waste, and through services such as Hospital Alerts to community providers, contributing to a 15% reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions for those patients,” said Laura Adams, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute.

“Care New England is grateful to have a voice in the discussion around the transformation of the health care system and we applaud Senator Whitehouse’s efforts to ensure health care reform remains a priority.  There are numerous initiatives underway at Care New England to illustrate our commitment to reshaping the health care delivery system, such as: CNE’s partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) to develop  innovative delivery and payment models; CNE’s role as a pioneer sponsor of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) work in palliative and end of life care, including the nationally recognized Conversation Project; and CNE’s ongoing efforts towards becoming a certified Medicare accountable care organization (ACO) in support of the “triple aim” of improving the health of the population, enhancing the patient experience and reducing the cost of care,” said Dennis Keefe, President and CEO of Care New England.

“CSI-RI is pleased to have a seat at the table to discuss health care delivery system reform, the ultimate goal of our efforts,” said Debra Hurwitz, MBA, BSN, RN, co-director of CSI-RI. “Our Initiative – which includes 36 primary care practices that serve nearly 20-percent of the state population – has demonstrated that Rhode Islanders are realizing the immediate personal benefits of patient-centered medical homes; the improved access to care; improved quality and health outcomes; and improved patient experience. Patients are becoming partners in their care working with their care team.”

“The Rhode Island multi-payer patient-centered medical home project (CSI-RI) has been the product of a remarkable partnership between the primary care community, the business community, government and medical insurance providers including both Medicaid and the federal Medicare program,” said Thomas A. Bledsoe, MD, FACP co-chair of the CSI-RI Executive Committee. “CSI-RI is a learning collaborative that has spread innovation and best practices within our network and across the greater primary care community. We’re thrilled to share what we’ve learned with leaders invested in delivery system reform.”

A variety of studies have estimated that it is possible to save anywhere from $700 billion to $1 trillion per year in the U.S. health care system, without harming the quality of care.  The Affordable Care Act contains more than 40 provisions aimed at achieving those savings by improving the delivery of care. Rhode Island has also long been laying the groundwork to be a leader in these reforms, including efforts to expand the use of health information technology and patient-centered medical homes.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921