Universal Health Care Foundation recently submitted our comments on the State Innovation Model (SIM) Healthcare Innovation Plan. The plan is the culmination of a year-long planning process supported by a $2.8 million federal grant funded by the Affordable Care Act. It sets a vision for how Connecticut can achieve a better, sustainable health care system, one that gives everyone access to affordable, quality care and leads to better health in our state. To achieve that vision, the SIM plan focuses on three areas of change:
- Transforming how primary care is delivered: Making care much more focused on the person and improving prevention and care coordination to help people stay healthy
- Community health improvement: Building better connections between health care providers, schools, employers and community agencies so that they are all working together to promote wellness
- Consumer empowerment: Making sure consumers have the tools they need to make the best health decisions for themselves and their families
The plan also identifies several “enabling initiatives”, such as greater use of electronic health records and improved training for the health care workforce. A major focus of the plan is changing how health care is paid for, moving away from paying for each visit or treatment, and moving toward a payment system that reward quality and good care. Experts agree that this is a necessary change to get rid of the pervasive over-treatment and patient safety problems that currently plague our health care system. But there is much disagreement about how it can be accomplished in a way that ensures that the new methods of payment don’t lead to under-treatment. Another key component is improving price and quality transparency, to make sure that it is easy to identify and reward good care. This transparency will also be key to allow consumers to make informed decisions about where to get care.
The over 150 page draft plan sets out an ambitious vision for improvement that will affect 80 percent of Connecticut residents within 5 years. Shorter, more readable summaries of the plan can be found here and here.
The Healthcare Innovation Plan was released for public comment in November. To help the foundation craft our comments we held a series of three meetings and invited a broad range of people to share their views of the plan with us. We met with consumers, consumer advocates, labor leaders, representatives of faith communities, health providers and many others to hear what they had to say about the SIM plan.
One thing we heard loud and clear is that for SIM to succeed, consumers must be integrally involved in the planning process going forward. To ensure that health system transformation truly meets the needs of patients and consumers, they must be at the table in far greater numbers and a stronger effort must take place to engage the public more broadly in the SIM process. SIM should not be something done “to” consumers, but should be done “with” them and “for” them.
More than 80 people and organizations submitted comments which are now posted on the SIM website. Comments were submitted by individual citizens as well as by very different types of organizations ranging from the Connecticut Association of Health Plans and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association; to provider groups such as the Connecticut Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Society, the National Physicians Alliance, the Connecticut State Medical Society, the National Association of Social Workers and the Connecticut Naturopathic Physician Association; to consumer groups such as AARP and the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group. The foundation’s comments can be found here.