Cracking the Code on Health Care Costs

State leaders have the ability to reduce cost and improve the quality of health care.

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5. Promote wellness and prevention: Recognizing the dollars and lives saved through prevention, virtually every state is involved in reducing obesity and addiction and promoting healthy living. State programs encourage fitness and nutrition in schools, initiatives to expand recreation areas like playgrounds, bike and walking paths and improved access to fresh produce. One study estimated that if the average body mass index (BMI) was reduced by just five percent, total health care costs could fall as much as 8 percent in nearly every state. 

Like politics, "all health care is local" – comprised of millions of daily personal decisions and interactions at the community level with individual physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and clinics. As such, top-down federal solutions can only go so far. These are just a sampling of the immense powers at the state level to deliver health care cost and quality improvements with staying power. States have a profound economic interest in finally cracking the code of health care cost containment to free up neglected investments in education, highways and infrastructure and stimulate job and wage growth. Where there is will – and leadership – there is a way.

Michael O. Leavitt and Bill Ritter are co-chairs of the State Health Care Cost Containment Commission, spearheaded by the University of Virginia's Miller Center -- www.millercenter.org. Leavitt is the former Governor of Utah and served as the Secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush administration. Ritter is the former Governor of Colorado.

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