RSG Offers Support, Ideas to Governors on Bipartisan Health Reform

September 26, 2017

Program:  Reforming States Group

The federal government is committed to supporting state health policy innovation, but where is the common ground in an otherwise fractured political environment?  Earlier this summer, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a summary of bipartisan ideas from 13 states about how to continue to improve the US health care system and strengthen the state-federal partnership in health care.

The Reforming States Group (RSG), a bipartisan group of senior legislative and executive branch state health policy leaders sponsored by the Milbank Memorial Fund, agrees wholeheartedly that states need to lead these efforts in exactly the bipartisan, evidence-based way put forth by the NGA.

In order to make governors aware of the RSG’s ideas for reaching these goals—goals which align well with theirs—the RSG sent governors its Letter to the New Administration (LNA), a bipartisan agenda sent to the new administration late last year that focuses on ways the federal government could assist states in accelerating and promoting population health. In its note to governors, RSG leadership from Colorado, New York, San Diego, Utah, and Connecticut, pointed to concerns shared by both the RSG and NGA and asked governors to consider incorporating relevant elements of the LNA’s bipartisan, evidence-based proposals into their own responses, including discussions with Congress, development of Medicaid waivers, state plan amendments, and federal contracts.

The LNA focuses on the following ideas:

  1. Reforming health care payment and delivery through stronger partnerships between Medicare and state health programs;
  2. Preventing and managing chronic disease by promoting links between health care and social supports;
  3. Making better use of health care data across the federal, state, and private systems; and
  4. Strengthening the federal-state partnership, including more coordination across multiple health-related funding streams between the federal and state levels.

“Health care reform, like other major domestic policy issues, requires a partnership between the states and the federal government and the Medicaid program, a topic of much discussion in the ‘repeal and replace’ debate,” said Rachel Block, program officer at the Milbank Memorial Fund. “Medicaid has operated as a state-federal partnership from its inception, while the state-federal partnership for health reform has evolved with opportunities to expand coverage and implement new delivery and payment models. But the RSG’s vision of state-federal partnerships for healthy populations is broader than Medicaid’s, extending to data standards and sharing, relationships with Medicare, and technical assistance to address the substance abuse crisis and other chronic conditions. The RSG provides a unique forum to promote evidence-based practice for population health that transcends branches of government and partisan divides. We hope the ideas presented in our letter are of use to the governors as they pursue their own policy initiatives with the federal government.”

Read the Letter to the New Administration and the NGA’s report Shared Priorities from the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network.