Connecticut is facing a billion dollar deficit next year and health care is a growing share of that spending. But saving money doesn’t have to reduce quality and access to care.

Almost a year ago, Connecticut moved our $865 million HUSKY program from capitated HMOs to a self-funded, primary care coordination model. Advocates had been urging the state to make this move for over a decade arguing that it would improve quality and access to care and save the state money. New evidence found that the shift saved the state millions in just the first six months.

We have collected 31 similar opportunities to both save money and boost the quality of care. Some have the potential to save significant amounts, some are more modest. Some provide immediate savings, some are long-term opportunities. Some are specific to state programs and some will save money across the system. As Connecticut’s largest payer of health care, the state budget will disproportionately benefit. Most options require changing the way the state does business. Many use the state’s considerable power, as the largest payer and regulator of health care, to lead our state into reform. Most are already being employed in other states. The sooner we get started, the sooner we will enjoy the savings.

Our 31 options focus on moving away from our antiquated fee-for-service payment system that rewards volume to a system that rewards quality improvement. Many options engage the power of consumers, who have the most to gain, in thoughtful, patient-centered reform — giving people the tools we need to keep ourselves healthy and to control costs. Other options emphasize preventing problems before they get expensive and difficult to treat, creating a learning system that capitalizes on best practices, and reducing waste and excessive administrative spending. Fortunately, with federal health reform opportunities, Connecticut has federal funding available as we reform our health care system.

There is no shortage of realistic, tested opportunities to control Connecticut’s health care costs that do not harm our health.

Click here to read in detail the 31 cost saving measures.

Ellen Andrews is executive director of the CT Health Policy Project