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Government News
Health Care Stakeholders Tell Obama They'll Pitch In to Control Costs
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 11 page 14-14

The AMA was among the groups from America's health care industry promising last month to help reduce health care costs.

Representatives for physicians and hospitals, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, medical-device manufacturers, and organized labor vowed to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year for the next 10 years—an amount equal to $2 trillion.

AMA President-elect James Rohack, M.D., and Rebecca Patchin, M.D., chair-elect of the AMA Board of Trustees, were among health care industry leaders who met with President Obama at the White House to discuss ways to bring down health care costs.

Six of those leaders wrote a letter to the president vowing to do their part to help achieve the administration's goal of decreasing by 1.5 percentage points the annual health care spending growth rate.

In addition to Rohack, the six leaders were Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the Advance Medical Technology Association; Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans; Rich Umdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association; and Dennis Rivera, chair of SEIU Healthcare for the Service Employees International Union.

"The annual growth in national health expenditures—including public and private spending—is projected by government actuaries to average 6.2 percent through the next decade," the group wrote to the president. "At that rate, the percent of gross domestic product spent on health care would increase from 17.6 percent this year to 20.3 percent in 2018—higher than any other country in the world.

"[W]e have joined together in an unprecedented effort, as private sector stakeholders ... to offer concrete initiatives that will transform the health care system. 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. This represents more than a 20 percent reduction in the projected rate of growth.

"To respond to this challenge, we are developing consensus proposals to reduce the rate of increase in future health and insurance costs through changes made in all sectors of the health care system," the group wrote in the letter to the president. "We are committed to taking action in public-private partnership to create a more stable and sustainable health care system that will achieve billions in savings through:

The group also added that health-promotion and disease-prevention efforts—especially focused on the epidemic of obesity—can save billions of dollars.

APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., commented, "We understand that President Obama has asked these representatives to meet again with him to discuss concrete proposals to accomplish their most worthy goal. We at APA look forward to also hearing these proposals and working with our partners in medicine and health care so as to assure that our patients and our physicians are treated in the same fashion as all others. The critical issue for all participants will be the details. How will these cuts be achieved?"

In a statement issued by the AMA, Rohack reiterated the AMA's commitment to helping to "bend the spending curve" for health care.

"The AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, with the efforts of more than 100 state and national medical specialty societies, continues to develop measures to improve health-care quality and value," he said. "The medical profession is working to address appropriateness of care, overutilization of some services, and avoidable hospital readmissions.

"The AMA has also initiated an important program to improve medication reconciliation. Patients with multiple conditions often see several physicians."

Rohack added, "Defensive medicine continues to be a major factor in rising costs. We need medical liability reforms that help physicians provide the best care without needing to order additional services to guard against possible lawsuits." ▪

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