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Midterms highlighted the need to work together to improve healthcare

Exit polls show that healthcare was the driving issue for most Americans in Tuesday’s midterm elections. In fact, twice as many people cited concern about healthcare as any other matter.

The focus on healthcare poses a real challenge for lawmakers who ran on healthcare issues. There’s an expectation that they will follow through with action that addresses issues of affordability, access and quality.

The good news is that the healthcare system in New York is making progress toward the goal of reducing costs, ensuring access and improving quality. State government catalyzed this transformational effort through a series of investments in the healthcare system with hospitals and health systems as vital partners over the past several years.

As a new state Legislature convenes in 2019, our focus should be on continuing and enhancing this progress. Here are some areas we should focus on:

New York has done a great job on coverage. About 95% of New Yorkers have health insurance coverage either through commercial insurers or government programs such as Medicaid. But we need to focus on covering the remaining 5% and make sure we keep the coverage and access we’ve achieved in New York.

Stay focused on improving population health, quality, patient safety and outcomes. Keeping people healthy is the best way to reduce the need for healthcare services (and reduce costs). All stakeholders must continue to work to ensure that when people do access the healthcare system, they receive coordinated, high-quality, affordable care.

We’ve made progress, but more can be done to reduce insurance administrative waste and complexity. HANYS and our members are working with insurers to find ways to simplify the system and improve communication.

Embrace new technologies and “disruptive” models of care—healthcare must continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the 21st century. As technology companies enter the healthcare space, we should welcome their fresh perspectives on solving complex healthcare problems. These companies can also learn from our healthcare providers who have decades of experience in the field.

Support today’s and tomorrow’s caregivers. Healthcare is a “people caring for people” enterprise. All caregivers need our support, particularly with the greying of the population and increased demands on the healthcare system.

Healthcare is a critical issue for voters because it affects everyone’s lives. The mid-term elections re-affirmed the importance of working together to achieve the best healthcare system possible.