Minnesota Follows the Lead of Bridges to Excellence

By Joanne Wojcik

Aug. 26, 2008

Bridges to Excellence’s pay-for-performance initiative in Minnesota served as the inspiration for health care payment reforms enacted this year by the state Legislature.

“The BTE presence helped bring to the forefront the need for payment reform in Minnesota,” says Charles Montreuil, vice president for human resources at Carlson Cos., based in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Montreuil served on the governor’s health reform task force that wrote the legislation. Carlson and several other members of the Buyers Health Care Action Group, a Minneapolis-based employer coalition, have been participating in Bridges to Excellence for the past four years.

The initiative is “a very important component to the reforms in Minnesota. It’s a real cornerstone,” Montreuil says, adding that it is hard to divorce Bridges to Excellence and the Buyers Health Care Action Group from the Minnesota reforms.

“We looked at it as being transitional. First, let’s start paying for quality of care versus quantity of care. That’s Phase I. Ultimately, we want to create competition in the marketplace; we want providers bidding for the services of employees based on cost, quality and efficiency and creating outcomes,” he says.

In May, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the Omnibus Health Care Bill, which would permit employers in the state to pay providers based on episodes of care rather than on a fee-for-service basis. Under the new law, for example, employers could pay providers a package price for a year’s worth of care delivered to a diabetic.

The measure also establishes a pay-for-performance program for Medicaid; establishes a certification program for medical homes, under which a single physician coordinates all the care for an individual; gives consumers online access to provider price and quality information; and requires that all prescription orders be made electronically by January 1, 2011.

The components of the legislation have different effective dates, beginning on January 1, 2009 and concluding on January 1, 2011.

Joanne Wojcik writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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