A broad collection of health care interests, who pledged four weeks ago to work together to wring $2 trillion in savings out of the system over the next 10 years, sent a letter to President Obama Monday outlining their progress.
After a series of face-to-face meetings and conference calls, the group -- representing unions, equipment makers, insurance firms, doctors, drug makers and hospitals -- has a vague outline of where they might find savings.
• Utilization of Care: $150 - $180 billion
• Chronic Care: $350 - $850 billion
• Administrative Simplification and Cost of Doing Business: $500 -$700 billion
At a minimum, that's half of what Obama has called for. At the outer limit, it's still about a quarter trillion short. It's also short on specific cuts and heavy on vague terms like, "streamlining," "innovative approaches" and "providing tools."
The group acknowledged a need for further regulation in order to attain real change. "Some of these proposals can be achieved under current law. The success of others will depend upon good public policy," they write.
The letter to the president also includes individual messages from each of the parties involved in its writing. The insurance providers, in particular, are adamant that their streamlining and coordination can not be done voluntarily, apparently concerned about possible anti-trust violations.
"We are not recommending a voluntary effort, but rather that HHS require the adoption," they said. .
Read the individual letters. The joint letter to the president is below.
Dear Mr. President:
Four weeks ago we came together, representing six different sectors of the health care industry, and pledged: As restructuring takes hold and the population's health improves over the coming decade, we will 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.
Since then, we have been working hard on how to help achieve that goal. We have convened seven all-day meetings and multiple conference calls to discuss what we can contribute, both individually and collectively, to help achieve that challenging goal.
We have made solid progress. Individually and together, our organizations have developed initiatives that will help move the nation toward achieving the Administration's goal and we intend to keep working. Our organizations will now pursue these initiatives which, together, will help transform the U.S. health care system.
The attached documents describe each sector's commitments, which will have significant and lasting financial impact over time. Each group has identified changes in its sector that will reduce costs, strengthen quality and improve access to care through the following key areas:
Utilization of care: Providing clinicians and other providers with the tools to address utilization and to improve quality and safety will help ensure that patients receive the right care at the right time in the right setting and will lower costs.
Cost of doing business: Innovative approaches to reducing the growing costs of providing health care services are essential and will benefit all stakeholders in the health care system.
Administrative simplification: Streamlining the claims processing system will allow clinicians and other personnel to spend less time and fewer resources on paperwork, lowering costs for everyone.
Chronic care: We are identifying significant opportunities to better manage chronic disease, which accounts for 75% of overall health care spending. We are also looking at more effective approaches to health promotion and disease prevention, with a special focus on obesity.
Some of these proposals can be achieved under current law. The success of others will depend upon good public policy.
We are committed to doing our part to make the system more affordable and effective for the nation. Our initiatives demonstrate that commitment, and we will work very hard to see them implemented. We can and will work together, and with other key sectors of the health care community, to identify further reform opportunities.
We will continue to work with you, the Congress and other stakeholders to make reform a reality.
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