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Obama Hails Health Care Industry Groups’ Cost-Cutting Plans

May 12, 2009
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Meeting on Monday, May 11,with more than a dozen lobbying groups that have at times been largely absent from the health care reform debates, President Barack Obama hailed a new partnership with providers, payers and others needed to overhaul the U.S. health care system.

The meeting comes as the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Service Employees International Union and others pledged to adopt measures that would shave roughly $2 trillion in health care costs during 10 years.

Obama hailed the agreement as potentially groundbreaking.

“This is a historic day, a watershed event in the long and elusive quest for health care reform,” he said.

The crux of the plan is to merge more streamlined care and a focus on quality and efficiency with “common-sense improvements.” One tenet urges the better coordination of care and adherence to evidence-based best practices. Another calls for better use of health information technology.

The groups have wagered that such changes can greatly cut how much is spent each year on health care. Their projections show that five years out, a family of four should see a $2,400 reduction in annual health care costs, and 10 years from now, overall national health care expenditures could be reduced by 3 percent.

Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System, Los Angeles, and American Hospital Association board chairman, praised the goals outlined in a broad reform blueprint offered by more than a dozen health care groups, saying that they match closely to ones long held by the hospital industry.

“Many of the things that we are talking about are not new,” he said. “What I think is new, there’s a climate in Washington and there is a momentum from all the stakeholders to recognize that the current system is fundamentally broken and it needs the kind of sustained changes that we’re talking about.”

Changes in hospital payment are also on the table, Priselac said.

“It’s important we all recognize that this is brave new territory,” he said. “We’re talking about redesigning the American health care system.”


Filed by Matthew DoBias of Modern Health Care, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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