Washington, DC – As the public debate over health care reform continues to focus on the “individual mandate” and other hot-button issues, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today released a report about the progress of another part of the Affordable Care Act that has gotten less attention but is no less important: delivery system reform (DSR). The report, entitled “Health Care Delivery System Reform and The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act,” shows that the Obama Administration has made significant progress in implementing the DSR provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and highlights the vast potential of these reforms to improve care for patients and lower costs.
“These reform efforts are the best way to lower costs and improve quality in our health care system,” said Whitehouse. “At a time when House Republicans are once again proposing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in an effort to reduce costs, it’s important to remind people about the promise of delivery system reform. Efforts such as encouraging people to receive preventive care and investing in health information technology can help reduce medical errors, save many billions of dollars, shore up programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and give American patients even better care than they have now.”
The promise of these reforms is immense. The President’s Council of Economic Advisors estimated that over $700 billion a year can be saved without compromising health outcomes; the Institutes of Medicine put this number at $765 billion a year; the New England Healthcare Institute reported that it is $850 billion annually, and the Lewin Group and former Bush Secretary Paul O’Neill have estimated the savings at $1 trillion a year.
Whitehouse’s report identifies five priority areas for reform: payment reform, primary and preventive care, measuring and reporting quality, administrative simplification, and health information technology. For each of these areas, the report outlines potential savings and care improvements that can be achieved.
The report also assesses the Administration’s progress implementing the health care law in the two years since it was enacted. It finds that of the law’s 45 delivery system reforms, the Administration has implemented 25 provisions fully and made progress on two others. For the 20 delivery system provisions that have not yet been implemented, the report concludes that the lack of Congressional funding support is a significant factor in delaying progress.
In its conclusion, the report states, “The Administration’s progress on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and actions taken by key private-sector leaders, has put our health care system on the road to a more efficient delivery system… We accept the challenge posed by the rising health care costs in our system, and know that we cannot postpone finding a solution. We can win this challenge, and drive our system toward a sustainable path of higher-quality care and improved outcomes, by supporting the Affordable Care Act.”
You can download the full report here.