Washington Improves Health Care Quality

Policy & Practice, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Washington Improves Health Care Quality


As government policy-makers try to wrestle with the expanding cost of delivering health care, the quality of care within their programs seems like a luxury concern.

Washington's new Gov. Christine Gregoire thinks a higher level of quality can actually reduce the cost of health care programs. And she says those reduced costs can provide coverage to more people.

The governor's strategy was to capture the synergy of the state's Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Health Care Authority (HCA), based on the different parts of health care policy and services they each address

* DOH Secretary Mary Selecky and her staff work with federal, state, and local partners to help people in Washington stay healthier and safer.

* DSHS Secretary Robin Arnold-Williams' agency operates the state's Medicaid program and other medical assistance.

* HCA Administrator Steve Hill is in charge of the state's employee health benefits, much of them administered under a fee-for-service Uniform Medical Plan.

The traditional lines between these roles have inhibited health-care planning in the past. But Gregoire's practical approach seeks interventions that will fight back on a broad front, driving the state toward higher-quality, more effective health care. …

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