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Walmart commits to health care efficiency program

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has committed $670,000 to help fund a first-of-its-kind program in its home state known as the Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative (APII).

The announcement regarding Walmart’s involvement in the cost-containment, outcomes oriented program was made by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe who characterized the initiative as a groundbreaking effort to create a more patient-centered and cost-efficient health payment system. As part of the agreement, Walmart will serve on a newly created APII Employer Advisory Council, fund the development and distribution of information to the public that explains how payments are being restructured and help underwrite an annual statewide tracking report that will evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the project.

"We have worked for the past two years to bring the public and private sectors together in order to provide better health care in more cost-efficient ways," Beebe said. "It's critical that large, self-insured companies like Walmart be involved in this complex work that has the potential to serve as a model for the rest of the nation. With more than one million people on its health plan, Walmart’s willingness to step forward and lead in this effort shows the company’s continued pursuit of innovation and the initiative’s potential for the future of health care."

The program, currently in its first phase of implementation, is structured to reward physicians, hospitals and other providers for delivering patients high-quality care at an appropriate cost. The long-term goal is to build a new and sustainable system that provides the best possible health care for Arkansas residents through team-based approaches and cost containment.

For example, when primary care providers actively encourage patients to use preventive services, patients can manage chronic diseases and reduce future serious illnesses and costly treatments. And, when people receive appropriate follow-up care after hospitalizations, the likelihood of hospital readmissions can be dramatically reduced, which results in better health and lower costs.

"We are very supportive of this work that will reward doctors, hospitals and other providers who offer great care at an appropriate cost," said Sally Welborn, Walmart’s SVP of benefits. "Governor Beebe is leading a first-of-a-kind payment-reform effort in Arkansas that health experts elsewhere are following closely. We respect the work being done in Arkansas, and we are excited about the opportunity to offer real support to such a meaningful project in our home state."

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