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12-11-2012 | Article

Coalition proposes strategies that leave Medicare, Medicaid funding intact

Abstract

Plan summary

medwireNews: The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) has taken the opportunity to chime in on federal health spending as President Obama and congress roll up their sleeves in preparation for year-end budget deliberations.

The NCHC's 50-page plan poses alternatives to unwanted Medicare and Medicaid funding cuts by identifying nearly $ 500 billion in potential health savings and revenue over the next decade, while attaining a healthcare system that is more affordable.

The NCHC is an alliance that strives for health system reform based on insights from various entities, including medical societies, healthcare providers, and insurers.

As a result of a year's worth of "intensive discussions," the nonpartisan group delivered a set of options with the intention of going beyond "simply shifting costs among stakeholders in our health system," explained George Diehr, Chair of the NCHC Board, and John Rother, NCHC's president and CEO, in a letter that introduced the plan's summary: Curbing Costs, Improving Care: The Path to an Affordable Health Care Future.

"Unless we do the kinds of things that we are talking about, I'm afraid we are going to see some meat-ax kind of cuts," Rother told the LA Times. "This is an effort to avoid some of the more heavy handed strategies."

The plan hinges on seven broad strategies that include basing provider incentives on value - rather than volume - of care, ensuring that high-cost patients receive high-value care, and reducing errors, fraud, and administrative overheads.

The NCHC health and fiscal policy proposal also specifies opportunities for savings by reducing the impact of healthcare costs while creating a more sustainable system. Stronger penalties for potentially avoidable acute care complications and readmissions could reduce spending by $ 52 billion, whereas a penny-per-ounce federal excise tax on sweetened beverages could create $ 130 billion in returns.

Implementing four policy suggestions, or "health system game-changers," as highlighted in the proposal, would have a "transformative impact [on] federal and private sector health spending." These distinct strategies to build long-term sustainability would tie Medicare payments to the value of a service, encourage consumers to pick higher value services, fund primary care training programs and nursing education, and implement medical liability rules that support patient safety, says the summary.

"We learned that curbing costs while improving care is possible if consumers, payers, and providers alike are ready to embrace changes in how our health system operates," Rother said in a NCHC press release.

By Peter Sergo, medwireNews Reporter