The State of State Legislation Addressing Health Care Costs and Quality

Ever-rising health care costs and significant variations in quality have made health care reform a central theme in national politics over the past decade. As we gear up for the 2020 elections, health care reform continues to take a front seat in national politics. Amongst the crowd of Democratic presidential candidates, for instance, there is an active debate about Medicare for All versus other strategies to expand coverage. 

However, while national political polarization has often stymied progress on health reform, the states have been active in passing new legislation aimed at health care cost and quality. Health care was a major topic in governors’ 2019 state of the state addresses; governors highlighted the need for reform in behavioral health care, the importance of Medicaid expansion and reform, the desire to address high and rising provider and pharmaceutical costs, and issues related to the health care workforce. 

State laws might be grouped into five categories: price transparency, benefit design, provider payment, provider networks, and market power. Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Source on Healthcare Price and Competition at UC Hastings Law, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have jointly developed a public database that catalogues state laws using these categories. 

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