by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator

Increasing alarm over rising health care costs – in the form of negative impacts on the health and finances of individuals and families and the crowding out of other priorities in state and national budgets – has put a glaring spotlight on elected officials and health care providers to take action to bend the cost curve.

Not mincing words, newly inaugurated Colorado Gov. Jared Polis expressed in his January State of the State address that despite all the progress Colorado has made, health care costs are still rising today, and families are still being ripped off.”

“It’s time for us to build a health care system where no person has to choose between losing their life savings and losing their life. It’s time for Coloradans to pay a fair price for the prescription drugs they need.”

The Colorado Medical Society’s effort to develop and recommend new policy and study initiatives on cost containment and quality improvement falls under the purview of the CMS Work Group on Health Care Costs, chaired by past president Dave Downs, MD, FACP.

“To paraphrase Warren Buffet, ‘health care costs are a tapeworm on American productivity,’” Downs said. “As physicians, we should act where we can to reduce the cost of care without compromising quality and work to collaborate and influence wherever we can to improve the efficiency of care delivery.”

As reported in the November-December issue of Colorado Medicine, Colorado physicians are concerned about rising health care costs and are actively engaged in initiatives to address costs. An all-member survey conducted in summer 2018 showed that almost three-quarters of CMS physicians in active practice call the current health care cost situation in Colorado a “crisis that they hear about daily” (23 percent) or a “very serious problem” (50 percent), particularly those in small towns or rural settings.

Two-thirds of CMS members believe physicians can have an impact on reducing health care costs, with 30 percent saying they can have a great deal of impact, and another 36 percent saying they can have some impact.

Physicians are and have been taking active steps to control costs in parallel with proposals in the legislative and regulatory arenas. As last summer’s survey showed, significant percentages of CMS physicians are implementing or will soon implement various technologies, systems or strategies to contain costs while ensuring quality. This issue of Colorado Medicine features the concrete actions being taken by just a few of the many practices across the state, as well as perspectives by government and business stakeholders.

The tipping point on health care costs has arrived,” Downs said. “Together physicians can work with others across the broad health care sector to promote cost-containment solutions that are data-driven and patient-centered, to influence reductions in the
cost of care while ensuring quality.”

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Cover Story, Resources, Health System Reform