Nation studies Western Slope’s low-cost, high-quality care |

Nation studies Western Slope’s low-cost, high-quality care

Michael Riley
The Denver Post

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers struggling to unclog negotiations over sweeping health care reform are focusing on a handful of areas in the country that seem to have cracked the health care code by delivering high-quality care at a bargain price.

Among the most prominent, it turns out, is Grand Junction.

Understanding why doctors and hospitals in Grand Junction deliver some of the cheapest and best care in the country goes a long way to explaining the problems of the current system, reformers say.

As a result, a health care model developed in the Western Slope city over the past three decades has become the talk of Washington – and may be among the keys to whether health care reform makes it out of Congress and to President Barack Obama’s desk by December.

“It just can’t be about the concepts of universal coverage and finding ways to getting people in the system. In addition to who’s writing the check, you have to address what are you writing the check for,” said Steve Erkenbrak, chief executive of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the area’s HMO and a key player in the Grand Junction system.

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