Grand Junction: A Model for National Health Reform?
Could the solution to the nation's healthcare problems be found in Grand Junction?
The Colorado community quite possibly could become a national model, according to a new, five-part series by Colorado Public News launched today. The series was reported by one of our former Fellows, Bill Scanlon.
Doctors and insurance companies have worked together to keep costs low, in part by emphasizing primary care and preventing more serious problems that could lead to expensive hospital stays. The Grand Junction system also offers doctors financial incentives tied to quality and efficiency.
Here's an excerpt from the series:
Scientists seeking healthcare comparisons look to Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, to find easily comparable statistics. Grand Junction ranks near the top in Medicare's Composite Quality of Care index, with a score of 91.
That's 21 points higher than McAllen.
But costs in Grand Junction are among the lowest in the nation, sixth from the bottom among 307 cities.
Medicare spends just $5,873 per year on the average recipient here, compared to a national average of $8,304, according to the Atlas of Health Care published by Dartmouth University. Grand Junction's costs are well under half the $14,946 average in McAllen, which is second most expensive. As a result, bevies of health-policy experts have been poking around Grand Junction to determine whether the system can be replicated.
Grand Junction was first gained national attention in a New Yorker magazine article about McAllen, Texas, having the lowest quality healthcare and some of the highest costs in the United States. Grand Junction was mentioned as a community that was on the opposite side of the spectrum.
What do you think? Could the lessons from Grand Junction work elsewhere? Would it work in your community? To what extent do you think it could serve as a model for national reform?
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