The Supreme Court held 6-2 in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempts Vermont’s all-payers claims database (APCD) law. Seventeen other states collect health care claims data. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing against ERISA preemption, which Justice Ginsburg cited three times in her dissenting opinion.

ERISA applies to the majority of health insurance plans. Rather than guaranteeing substantive benefits, it mandates oversight over plans. ERISA preempts all state laws that “relate” to any employee benefits plan. Vermont’s APCD law requires health insurers to report to the state information related to health care costs, prices, quality, and utilization, among other things.

While debate about improving the nation’s health care system continues, policymakers, health care experts and consumers essentially agree on three goals—improving patient care, creating healthier communities and reducing health care costs. States face huge challenges in developing successful strategies for broad population impact, and even bigger challenges for having a positive impact in rural areas and among certain disadvantaged population groups. Speakers addressed strategies for improving population health, increasing immunization coverage, and providing data to guide state decision-making.

At a time when more people need health care, the shortage of physicians across the country is growing. That dynamic is making telemedicine, or telehealth—the use of electronic telecommunications technology to diagnose or treat a patient in need of care, service or monitoring—even more important.

According to a Stateline report today, less than half of U.S. doctors (48.1 percent) have made the switch to electronic records. Nine states were significantly above the national average – except for Massachusetts, these states were clustered in the upper Midwest and the West. The seven states, and the District of...

Data is the “oxygen for our program” said a Super-Utilizer Summit leader in the October report Super-Utilizer Summit: Common Themes from Innovative Complex Care Management Programs. Data can help policy makers identify and target super-utilizers. However, the correct type of data is important to accurately measure and target patient populations.

Claims data is one source to paint a broad picture of patient populations...

It’s not difficult to find success from medical innovation over the past 50 years.

The federal government invests $31 billion and the private sector—including the biopharmaceutical industry, academic medical centers and patient advocacy organizations—invests nearly $65 billion a year, said Richard Bagger.

Story appears in the 2013 July/August issue of Capitol Ideas.

By Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, House Public Health Committee Chair

As consumers, we have become accustomed to having easy access to information and reviews about the things we buy and the places we visit. Whether we’re shopping for an appliance or a car or looking for a restaurant or a hotel room, we learn from and make purchasing decisions based on the experiences of others. Imagine if we were able to do the same with health care.

Telemedicine consultations improve quality of care according to a study published in Critical Care Medicine titled Impact of Critical Care Telemedicine Consultations on Children in Rural Emergency Departments.

The Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts is working with several stakeholder groups on issues ranging from electric transmission lines, distance learning, and licensing of EMS and other medical services personnel. Find out more about compacts relating to these issues, all of which are in various stages of development.

Leveraging technology to improve access to telehealth has the potential to significantly improve access to health care in rural areas and, in turn, reduce costs for patients, states and the federal government. An effective telehealth system that allows rural patients to connect more efficiently with specialists has the potential to streamline the process and result in better patient outcomes, all while reducing the financial burden on patients, states and the federal government. A telehealth interstate compact offers one approach to achieving these goals, and in turn improving access to health care through telehealth.