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Commentary

Minnesota's Health Care Gamble
David Broder, Washington Post, 12-9-04

In Minnesota, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has helped to create the “Smart Buy Alliance,” “an unprecedented partnership of state government and private employers that will mobilize the purchasing power of three out of every five consumers in Minnesota to raise the quality, improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of health care.”

Frustrated by rapidly rising public health care costs (by 2016 public health care expenditures could consume 85% of the Minnesota state budget) Pawlenty is using health savings accounts and performance data on health care providers to help spur innovation and efficiency. Although each member of the Smart Buy Alliance will be able to negotiate its own contracts with providers, “by setting uniform performance standards and reporting requirements, the alliance will empower its members to press for better coordination of treatment, more use of technology and fuller information to consumers about the results each hospital or doctors’ group is achieving for its patients.” Says Pawlenty, “We’ll do this by harnessing market forces, without a new government bureaucracy micromanaging what providers do.”



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