Viewpoints on Health Care Reform Around the Debates

January 26, 2012
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As everyone gears up for an exciting presidential campaign year, health care reform continues to play a major role in the news and conversations this week due to the ongoing struggle candidates, lawmakers and policy analysts face in battling our national $2.7 trillion deficit and mounting debt. 

As everyone gears up for an exciting presidential campaign year, health care reform continues to play a major role in the news and conversations this week due to the ongoing struggle candidates, lawmakers and policy analysts face in battling our national $2.7 trillion deficit and mounting debt. 

At the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), we’ve been monitoring the headlines closely as we continue to advocate for reform that will both strengthen Medicare and Medicaid programs, minimize health spending, and lower the incidence of costly chronic diseases that affect one in two Americans. Campaign season presents an especially opportune time to educate the public and leaders in health care and policy and to advance proposals on how we can best tackle the current health care spending crisis.

Some highlights in the news this week are below.

  • Kaiser Health News pulled together video highlights from Thursday’s South Carolina GOP debate between Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul on health care issues and their views of the future of the Affordable Care Act.
  • The National Journal reported findings from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regarding several Medicare payment reform pilot programs. According to the CBO, an initiative aimed at reducing patients’ use of specialty and hospital care by offering them more intensive support at their primary care doctor’s office still resulted in the patients costing Medicare as much as similarly situated patients without the extra services. The second initiative, known as value-based purchasing, gave financial incentives to providers for offering higher quality care. CBO found that hospitals performing heart bypass operations instead of a series of minor treatments led to reduced costs. CBO, like what Mathematica outlined earlier, identified the key design features of successful care coordination programs. These include team based care, a close integration of the teams and provider practices, and evidence-based programs like transitional care, health coaching, medication management and reconciliation and care coordination (all outlined in section 3502 of the Affordable Care Act).
  • Forbes contributor Rick Ungar voiced positive reinforcement for savings from the Affordable Care Act in a recent write-up. According to Ungar, the cost savings from Affordable Care Organizations (ACO), the implementation of electronic heath records (EHR) and other health reforms could be huge: “The next time someone tries to convince you that health care reform does not tackle our costs problem, I hope you’ll refer them to this data and suggest that their own self-interest requires that they root for these measures to work.”

Because the condition of the health care system at large affects the long-term well-being of every American and there’s an imminent need for education on these issues as we head to the voting polls, we’ll continue to monitor for how these issues unfold in the headlines.