Five States Join the Peterson-Milbank Program for Sustainable Health Care Costs

Focus Area:
Sustainable Health Care Costs
Peterson-Milbank Program for Sustainable Health Care Costs

Connecticut, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington to implement spending targets to make health care more transparent and affordable

The Milbank Memorial Fund announced today that Connecticut, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, and Washington have been selected to participate in the Peterson-Milbank Program for Sustainable Health Care Costs. With Peterson Center on Healthcare support, the Milbank Memorial Fund and Bailit Health will provide technical assistance to these five states as they set and implement health care cost growth targets. These targets are a first step toward making health care more affordable and transparent.

This program is just one Milbank Memorial Fund initiative that aims to empower and support state leaders in making health care more affordable for everyone.

“The Milbank Memorial Fund is excited to support these five leading states as they work with their stakeholders to set and implement a target and develop the data capacity necessary to identify and address the underlying causes of rising health care costs,” said Milbank Memorial Fund President Christopher F. Koller.

In the United States, health care costs have grown faster than the economy for decades. These rising costs are burdening states, employers, and families, as well as crowding out other critical priorities like education or housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has further stressed state, employer, and family budgets, and many states have a limited understanding of statewide health care spending and what is driving unsustainable increases.

“As we have seen across the nation and especially in our state’s ongoing battle with the pandemic, COVID-19 has not only devastated our economy, but it has turned gaps in coverage into chasms, especially for those who need it the most,” said Sara Cholhagian, executive director of Nevada’s Patient Protection Commission. “My hope is that this program will help our state address growth in health care spending across all populations.”

The Peterson-Milbank Program for Sustainable Health Care Costs supports state-led activities that engage cross-sector stakeholders, such as insurers, health providers, and employers, in designing, adopting, and implementing policies to measure total health care costs and set a statewide health care cost growth rate target, so health care costs don’t outpace economic or income growth. The end-goal is to stimulate data-driven systemwide action to address cost growth drivers and improve health care performance.

The approach is initially modeled on Massachusetts’s cost growth benchmark set in 2012. Since 2013, state spending growth has been, on average, lower than the benchmark and lower than the national rate of growth. In the commercial insurance sector, employers and individuals in Massachusetts spent about $7.2 billion less from 2013 to 2018 than they would have if the state’s spending growth had risen as fast as the national average.

To be selected, states had to demonstrate their leadership commitment — with a governor’s executive order or legislation establishing the target-setting process and resources to support it, as well as the appointment of a multi-stakeholder commission to oversee the work.


The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that works to improve population health by connecting leaders and decision makers with the best available evidence and experience.

The Peterson Center on Healthcare is a non-profit organization dedicated to making higher quality, more affordable healthcare a reality for all Americans. The organization is working to transform U.S. healthcare into a high-performance system by finding innovative solutions that improve quality and lower costs and accelerating their adoption on a national scale.