Cantwell Applauds Administration’s Work on Health Care Delivery System Reform, Urges Secretary Burwell to Build on Washington State’s Success

HHS announces $685 million in grants including University of Washington, Washington state Department of Health to improve quality of care

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, today applauded the Obama Administration and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell for their efforts to improve the quality of health care and reduce costs. 

At a roundtable discussion today, Senator Cantwell urged Secretary Burwell to use Washington state’s high-performing health care delivery system as a model to reform the Medicare program to focus on the value, not the volume, of health care services. 

HHS announced today $685 million in grants to improve health care delivery systems including $5.5 million to the University of Washington and $4 million to the Washington state Department of Health. The grants will enable clinicians to improve quality and make health care information more accessible to patients.

“Washington state health care providers are efficient and innovative. Today’s grants are a step forward in putting efficient, patient-focused care first.  As the Administration implements new reforms, I will continue to fight for strong payment incentives that reward leaders like Washington state,” said Senator Cantwell.

Washington State Department of Health Grant

The grant to the Washington state Department of Health helps the Washington Pediatric Practice Transformation Network improve health outcomes and reduce hospitalizations and overutilization of other services for 450,000 Washington children on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"We are excited to use this award to help kids get better care in Washington state. This investment allows us to continue rethinking how efficient, cost-effective, patient-focused health care is delivered," said Washington state Secretary of Health, John Wiesman.

University of Washington Grant

The University of Washington grant aims to assist more than 6,700 clinicians lower health care costs and reduce unnecessary testing and hospital readmissions. The grant is expected to provide better care for more than 1.9 million patients.

“As a recipient of this award, UW Medicine will support the ongoing efforts of our  clinicians to expand their quality improvement capacity, learn from one another, and achieve common goals of improved care, better health, and reduced cost,” said Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine.  “UW Medicine is already well on its way toward transforming patient care through the use of the accountable care model to deliver care and improve population health and this grant helps to accelerate our work.” 


Washington state is a national leader in delivering lower-cost, higher-quality health care.  One example was provided by the Boeing Company at today’s healthcare roundtable. Through Boeing’s Preferred Partnership initiative, the company is contracting directly with Puget Sound health care providers in order to meet cost and quality goals.  Boeing is a leader among large, private sector employers in improving how it purchases health care for its workers.

Cantwell has long been a champion of policies that promote better health care at lower costs.  Recently, Cantwell introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and John Thune (R-SD) to make Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) more beneficial to providers and patients in rural communities.  That legislation, the Rural ACO Improvement Act of 2015, allows Medicare to include primary care visits by nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and clinical nurse specialists, as well as primary care services furnished in Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics, in assigning patients to an Accountable Care Organization.