A Shifting Health Care Landscape: Challenges & Opportunities for CT
The past year brought Connecticut’s changing health care landscape into more focus – and the picture showed a mix of challenges, as well as areas of promise.
Our state continued to miss out on opportunities due to the lack of a coordinated, results-oriented approach to our health care system. In early 2015, Frances Padilla called on Connecticut’s elected leaders to address the disarray in health care with a state-centered approach to health systems planning:
The good news is that much state-based reform work is being done in both the public and private sectors:
Yet challenges kept coming at us.
For too many people, out-of-pocket health care costs continued to rise with no demonstrable improvement in the quality of, or options for, care. Health care costs ate up larger slices of household, municipal and state budgets crowding out resources for important needs, such as education and infrastructure.
Families, employers and even health care providers were caught in the cross-hairs between hospitals and insurers vying for bigger market shares and more leverage with each other. Too often individual and community needs seemed to be left behind.
Community hospitals were increasingly at-risk. Local control and community-based health care services suffered. A wave of consolidations and acquisitions in the industry had gobbled up all but eleven of the state’s 32 hospitals, as well as many physician practices.
Merger mania was mirrored in the health insurance industry. The creation of insurance behemoths loomed large, with the announcement of two proposed mergers – Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana. Both deals put consumer advocates on watch.
The challenge to transform our state’s approach to health care is daunting. Connecticut is taking many small steps in the right direction, but a clear roadmap alludes us.
This offers us rich opportunities to steer our state in the direction of change that puts health costs and the health and well-being of everyday people first – and sets us on a course that emphasizes planning, coordination, oversight and innovation.