Health Care Proposals Might Reduce Spending, Improve Quality

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The health care proposals examinedin a report released this week by the Commonwealth Fund would account for only a "modest 4.5%reduction" in health spending over the next decade and "will be hardto achieve," but "there is no choice but to try" and many of theproposals "might actually improve the quality of care delivered toAmericans," a New York Times editorial states (New YorkTimes, 12/20).

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According to the report, which examines 15 proposals, the U.S. could reducehealth care spending over 10 years by $1.5 trillion, in part throughaccelerated adoption of health care information technology and theimplementation of a system that pays physicians based on the quality and outcome,rather than the number, of tests and procedures they perform (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 12/18).

According to the editorial, the physician payment system proposal, which thereport estimates could reduce health care spending by $368 billion over 10years, "is a superb idea and could produce big savings over time, althoughwe are skeptical that the initial payback would be that high." Theeditorial adds, "A few options that make good sense are sure to excitestrong lobbying opposition," such as proposals to "eliminate theunjustified subsidies granted" to private Medicare Advantage plans and"allow the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices forMedicare."

However, the report "failed to assess one controversial proposal -- aMedicare-like insurance program to replace private insurance -- that, by someestimates, could produce even bigger savings." Still, the CommonwealthFund has "performed a public service by putting dollar estimates on therather abstract proposals being discussed by many of the presidentialcandidates," the editorial states, adding, "If the United Stateshopes to bring health care costs under control, it will need to start on theseor other options as soon as possible" (New York Times,12/20).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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