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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: August 27, 2018


NEW CASTLE (Aug. 27, 2018) - Culminating nearly a year of outreach to and feedback from health stakeholders across the state, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker today sent her recommendations for establishing health care spending and quality benchmarks to Governor John Carney.

The work on the benchmarks began last summer when the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 7 authorizing DHSS to develop a health care spending benchmark. The Governor signed that legislation in September 2017, just months after an analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed Delaware had the third-highest per-capita health care spending rate in the country. That fall, DHSS and Secretary Walker began a series of summits to explore how a spending benchmark could work in Delaware. While the overall health of Delawareans has been improving - Delaware is ranked 30th among the states, according to America's Health Rankings - the pace of that improvement is trailing the growth of health care spending across the state.

As a way to increase transparency and to tie health care spending to improved outcomes for Delawareans, Governor Carney signed Executive Order 19 in February 2018, creating an advisory group of health care leaders and other key stakeholders to provide feedback to Secretary Walker on strategies for developing spending and quality benchmarks. The advisory group provided its summary report in June 2018.

Based on months of feedback, research and deliberations, Secretary Walker's recommendations to Governor Carney include:

"I want to thank the hundreds of health care leaders, advocates and consumers across our state who provided feedback on the spending and quality benchmarks," said Secretary Walker, a board-certified family physician. "They understand the need for our health care system to change in order to be sustainable and to meet the ongoing needs of the patients we serve."

Secretary Walker encouraged stakeholders to provide feedback to DHSS through Ongoing updates also will be posted on DHSS' health care website,

Delaware historically has ranked among the top 10 states in per-capita health care spending, including in 2014, when the state had the third-highest per-capita rate, behind only Alaska and Massachusetts. The 50-state analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), released in 2017, found that Delaware's per-capita rate was $10,254, or more than 27 percent higher than the U.S. average of $8,045. Without changes, the analysis estimated that Delaware's total health care spending would more than double from $9.5 billion in 2014 to $21.5 billion in 2025. Yet Delaware ranked only 30th among the states for overall health in 2017, according to America's Health Rankings.

TO THE MEDIA: Secretary Walker's report to Governor Carney is also available here.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.