The ever-rising cost of healthcare has been a constant and unyielding pressure on individuals, employers and government. As a state senator with over 30 years of experience in the health insurance market, I can tell you that if we do not encourage our healthcare system to grow, evolve, and innovate, then we will be left with a stagnant, expensive system that does not work for anyone.
We all envision a healthcare system that brings together the physical, mental and pharmaceutical needs of patients in an integrated way with an eye toward keeping costs down. We know that every aspect of an individual’s well-being is connected, and our approach to healthcare should be the same. But we need to incentivize innovative, integrated models of care to get better outcomes in the real world.
For example, we need to stop focusing on providing more care – which is often wasteful and costly – and shift toward a system that rewards better care and better outcomes. This means emphasizing preventive services and helping consumers make healthy choices so that we can have healthier families that need to spend less on care over the long-term.
We need private and public-sector partners to help incentivize this shift toward an innovative, value-based system. And we need to double our efforts to reward partnerships between hospitals, physicians, insurers and others who focus on cutting out waste, and providing quality, affordable care.
State Sen. Dave Syverson
One area where we are seeing encouraging collaboration is between public officials, providers, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, who are all taking a frontline approach to combating the opioid epidemic. This crisis is a multi-faceted problem that needs innovative approaches with all stakeholders engaged, on board, and ready to fight. Opioid overdoses have killed nearly 11,000 people since 2008, and the Illinois Department of Public Health recently called it the state’s most significant public health and public safety crisis.
To combat this epidemic here in Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner created the Opioid Task Force to initiate a holistic approach to tackling this problem from a state government perspective. In the private sector, the global health service company Cigna, and the integrated pharmacy Express Scripts, for example, have both successfully dedicated resources to preventing drug addiction and abuse by monitoring and reducing customers’ access to opioids. In fact, studies have shown non-opioid treatments are often just as effective for patients, without the risk of addiction or accidental overdose. Additionally, by lowering dosages, adhering to federal guidelines, and strengthening partnerships with physicians and community resources, the two companies have brought a smart approach to providing cost-effective and quality care with better outcomes for Illinois families.
A better healthcare system is possible, and at its core are comprehensive health and well-being management, along with a strong commitment to providing value and quality care. I hope we can learn from the innovative and successful work we are seeing in the public and private sectors and continue to make strides to ensure all Illinois families are getting the quality, affordable care they deserve.
– State Sen. Dave Syverson
Deputy Leader, Illinois Senate Republican Caucus
Republican Ranking Member, Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee
Member, Illinois Senate Insurance Committee