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Gov. Gregoire keeps patients safe by building an effective, efficient health care system

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2007

SPOKANE – Gov. Chris Gregoire today proposed investing $7.89 million to increase patient safety in Washington.

  • $930,000 to ensure providers in Washington are well qualified. The Governor will introduce legislation to strengthen the state’s standards for credentialing and disciplining health care providers, including support for national background checks.

  • $2 million to rigorously investigate complaints against health care providers. Last year, an initial investment was made that resulted in a 10 percent reduction in the time it took to complete a case and a 72 percent reduction in the number of outstanding cases. Gov. Gregoire’s investment will continue this success with a 30 percent increase in complaint investigations.

  • $1.4 million to help provide real-time information in order to reduce medication errors. The governor’s budget invests in a new online database to give providers and pharmacists access to all the prescription drugs their patients are receiving. With this information, they can reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions, particularly for our seniors taking multiple medications.

  • Utilizing the existing state budget, hospitals will be required to report adverse events to the public. With full disclosure, the publics’ right to know is fulfilled. The health-care system also can learn from its mistakes and prevent new ones.

  • $3 million to help hospitals train more qualified nurses to address staffing shortages. Hospitals across Washington are facing severe shortages of qualified nurses. The governor’s budget will support innovative partnerships to train health care workers to become certified registered nurses.

  • $560,000 to increase licensing standards for registered counselors. The governor will introduce legislation to improve the quality of counseling services by increasing education and experience standards for counselors in Washington.

Since taking office, Gov. Gregoire has made it a priority to increase access to high quality, affordable health care and Washingtonians are already seeing results:

  • 84,000 more children now have access to health insurance.

  • Washington is now ranked the 12th healthiest state in the nation, up from 15th one year ago.

  • More than 68,300 Washingtonians are saving 20 – 60 percent on prescription drugs with the state’s new, free discount card, saving consumers $1.8 million.

  • The state has saved taxpayers $192 million in state employee health-care costs by reducing the rate of growth from 11 percent in 2005 to 3 percent in 2008.

Gov. Gregoire’s budget proposals are the next steps in building on this good work.

“One of my core values is that all Washingtonians should enjoy a good quality of life -- and as I heard so many times from families in our recent town halls – it is hard to have a good quality of life without access to quality, affordable health care. If we want our families to be secure, our businesses to be competitive and our state budget to be sustainable, we must ensure that all Washingtonians have access to high-quality, affordable health care,” said Gov. Gregoire.

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