The Smart Buy Alliance is a group of public and private health care purchasers in Minnesota working together in hopes of driving greater quality and value in the market. Its members--including the state agencies overseeing Medicaid and public employee health benefits, along with coalitions of businesses and labor unions--represent about 60 percent of state residents. The Alliance's members agree on common purchasing principles and share strategies for promoting and regarding higher value. Strategies adopted by members included: a common set of quality standards to demand from health plans and providers; a tool that compares quality measures among health plans; a pay-for-performance program for physician practices; and evaluation and designation of certain health providers as "best in class." Looking ahead, there will be challenges associated with managing and sustaining such as broad alliance of members, getting employers to consider quality in addition to cost, and educating consumers.
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