Here's Colorado's New Tool for Health-care Reform

The Colorado All Payer Claims Database (APCD) is a powerful tool for health-care reformers. It collects and makes searchable vast amounts of data on the insurance claims filed by all commercial health insurers in the state, plus Medicare and Medicaid. Having access to that kind of data is invaluable for those looking to find places to cut costs and improve care. Patients can compare the costs and quality of services, and researchers can extrapolate trends they could never have found before.

A big part of the APCD's success can be attributed to a $4.5 million joint grant from the Colorado Trust and the Colorado Health Foundation. The Colorado Trust is "dedicated to achieving access to health for all Coloradans," and the Colorado Heath Foundation aims to "make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation." Both see providing access to this data as a key factor in improving health care.

The APCD is administered by the Center for Improving Value in Healthcare (CIVHC), a nonprofit in the state that aims to provide better health care at lower costs. The genesis for the APCD came in 2008 from Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care, and it was eventually enabled by legislation in 2010. The database has been mostly funded by the Colorado Trust and the Colorado Health Foundation.

There are nine other states in the union with similar databases, and the trend is growing. In addition to the nine with databases already in place, the All-Payer Claims Database Council counts six states currently implementing a database and 22 with a "strong interest" in developing the tool. In fact, only nine states have neither an interest nor any existing voluntary database.

The trend toward APCDs is clear, so organizations interested in receiving health-care reform dollars should investigate whether their state already has such a database and, if not, whether efforts are underway to establish one.