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