Health

Just weeks after Gov. Matt Bevin confirmed he would seek to dismantle Kentucky’s health insurance exchange and roll back the state’s expanded Medicaid system, 10 hospitals in the commonwealth announced they have formed a new regional health care collaborative aimed at lowering costs.

The goal of the Kentucky Health Collaborative, they say, is to address the state’s poor health outcomes and reduce the cost of health care for hospitals and patients.

It will formally begin operation in March with a headquarters in Lexington.

Bill Shepley, executive director of the collaborative, said various health care systems in Kentucky had been discussing for some time how they could come together to reduce costs and share resources.

“They had 10 hospitals that felt strongly that they wanted to stay independent, but they also wanted to gain whatever they could gain by working together,” he said.

Shepley said the collaborative provides a legal entity to negotiate as one organization with outside vendors.

About 55 individual hospitals will be represented by the 10 health care systems. The initial partners are:

  • Appalachian Regional Healthcare (Lexington, KY)
  • Baptist Health (Louisville, KY)
  • Ephraim McDowell Health (Danville, KY)
  • LifePoint Health (Brentwood, TN)
  • Norton Healthcare (Louisville, KY)
  • Owensboro Health (Owensboro, KY)
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center (Morehead, KY)
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare (Edgewood, KY)
  • The Medical Center (Bowling Green, KY)
  • UK HealthCare (Lexington, KY)

Shepley anticipates adding more hospitals in the future.

The founding health systems’ chief executive officers or appointed executives are serving on a steering committee guiding the formation and development of the collaborative.

Lynn Choate, public relations project manager at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, said the collaborative will provide a way for partnering hospitals to accomplish collectively what no single organization can do by itself.

“Members will have access to shared solutions to common problems,” Choate said. “They will also have access to best practices related to quality and efficiency of care.”

She said member hospitals will also share best practices in operational effectiveness and innovative approaches to population health. Because of this, Shepley said, patients will receive better care.

“We wouldn’t even be doing this if it wasn’t for trying to do something to measurably improve the health of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” he said. “If we end up not doing that, then we have not succeeded.”

Shepley said the collaborative’s operating agreement is in its final stages. Funding for the collaborative comes from member health care systems.