The health care cost landscape, like most costs these days, is bleak. Just as your grocery bill and the price at the gas pump seem to grow ever higher, health care bills are among the costs that are steadily rising. 

Which is exactly why the transformational work of OneCare Vermont to reduce the rate of health care spending, while improving the quality of care, is so important. An evaluation commissioned by the federal government concluded last month that OneCare is bucking the trend and is actually driving down health care costs.

The independent analysis commissioned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center concluded that OneCare successfully drove down costs and hospitalizations over four years. In a health care environment where we tend to see nothing but consistent cost increases, this analysis shows that OneCare is working — lowering costs, driving down the need for hospitalizations, and improving patient care.

OneCare is a provider-led, 501(c)3 accountable care organization that gives Vermont providers in its network necessary tools to provide the best health care possible. These include data and analysis, financial incentives for health outcomes, and flexibility to deliver the right care at the right time at the right place.

By providing these tools, OneCare is moving our health care system toward a higher-quality, more affordable and coordinated model that better serves patients. By supporting providers, increasing access to preventive care and paying for value and health outcomes rather than various services, such as tests and operations, this system is keeping Vermonters healthier while reducing the rate of growth in health care spending. 

There are over 5,000 providers statewide partnering with OneCare who, thanks to the tools offered by the accountable care organization, are delivering higher quality care and more savings to over 200,000 Vermonters.

The CMS analysis found that OneCare reduced Medicare spending by over $1,700 per Medicare beneficiary and reduced hospital stays, emergency room visits and readmissions over the four-year period studied. The analysis also lauded OneCare’s investment in primary care and its work to promote collaboration among health care providers. A national organization of health care leaders working on these issues responded to the independent evaluation by applauding the success of OneCare, calling it a model that should be expanded across the nation.

As the interim CEO of OneCare, I want to be clear that this model and our organization are not perfect, and our work is far from over. I also want to be clear that this type of transformative work — to fundamentally change how health care is delivered in Vermont — takes time (think decades, not years). 

But while we have real work ahead of us and much more progress to make, we should also come together to support the one model that is reducing health care spending and improving care for Vermonters.

Abe Berman
Interim CEO at OneCare Vermont

Pieces contributed by readers and newsmakers. VTDigger strives to publish a variety of views from a broad range of Vermonters.