Monday, May 11, 2009

Disparate health care groups agree to cooperate on cost control

The trade associations for American's health insurers (AHIP), hospitals (AHA), doctors (AMA), pharmaceutical manfacturers (Phrma), and medical device manufacturers (Advamed) and a major labor union for health care workers (SEIU) met with President Obama today to promise "to do our part to achieve your Administration’s goal of decreasing by 1.5 percentage points the annual health care spending growth rate—saving $2 trillion or more" over the next decade. The organization acronym links to each organization's press release about today's activities.

The groups explain that

We are developing consensus proposals to reduce the rate of increase in
future health and insurance costs through changes made in all sectors of the
health care system. We are committed to taking action in public-private
partnership to create a more stable and sustainable health care system that will
achieve billions in savings through:
• Implementing proposals in all sectors of the health care system, focusing on administrative simplification, standardization, and transparency that supports effective markets;
• Reducing over-use and under-use of health care by aligning quality and efficiency
incentives among providers across the continuum of care so that physicians,
hospitals, and other health care providers are encouraged and enabled to work
together towards the highest standards of quality and efficiency;
• Encouraging coordinated care, both in the public and private sectors, and
adherence to evidence-based best practices and therapies that reduce
hospitalization, manage chronic disease more efficiently and effectively, and
implement proven clinical prevention strategies; and,
• Reducing the cost of doing business by addressing cost drivers in each sector and through common sense improvements in care delivery models, health information technology, workforce deployment and development, and regulatory reforms.

These and other reforms will make our health care system stronger and more sustainable. However, there are many important factors driving health care costs that are beyond the control of the delivery system alone. Billions in savings can be
achieved through a large-scale national effort of health promotion and disease
prevention to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease and poor health status,
which leads to unnecessary sickness and higher health costs. Reform should
include a specific focus on obesity prevention commensurate with the scale of
the problem. These initiatives are crucial to transform health care in America
and to achieve our goal of reducing the rate of growth in health

The President was pleased. According to a White House press release,

These are important steps toward comprehensive health care reform both for the savings identified and the improvements these efforts will make to health care delivery in our country. Moreover, if groups as disparate as – AHIP, AMA, AHA, PhRMA, SEIU, and AdvaMed – can come together around the cause of cost-cutting and greater affordability, the possibility for fundamental reform in the weeks ahead is great.

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