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June 1, 2009 News Headlines

Health Care Cost-Containment Details Issued to White House

At the request of President Obama, six leading health care organizations, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), today issued details on the commitment the health care community agreed to undertake to help achieve the President’s health care cost-containment goals reducing health care cost growth by 1.5 percentage points over the next ten years.

The group provided estimated savings of some, but not all of the proposed initiatives, including:

  • Utilization of Care: $150 - $180 billion
  • Chronic Care: $350 - $850 billion
  • Administrative Simplification and Cost of Doing Business: $500 -$700 billion

The groups noted that achieving these system-wide cost reductions will require collaboration and good public policy.

AHA’s submission details immediate cost-saving quality improvement actions hospitals are willing to undertake, including the further dissemination and use of best practices, beginning with infection prevention and patient safety. Longer-term initiatives focus on improved care coordination and effective implementation of health information technology (HIT) systems, among others. AHA also offered steps to be taken with other stakeholders to reduce administrative costs, including simplifying and standardizing public and commercial insurance processing systems, medical malpractice reform, and removing barriers to clinical integration.

HANYS, along with HANYS’ members, Herbert Pardes, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System; and Steven Goldstein, President of Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital; serve on AHA’s Advisory Committee on Health Care Reform, which was formed to help AHA prepare its response.

Key health committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives continue to consider health reform legislation this month, with the goal of sending legislation to their respective floors by the August recess. Thus far, the Obama Administration has not taken an active role in drafting health care reform legislation.

HANYS will continue to keep members informed of the major health care reform developments from the White House and on Capitol Hill.

Contact: Kevin Krawiecki

Senate Health Committee Releases Outline of Health Care Reform Priorities

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released an outline of its health care reform priorities. The HELP Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care programs outside of Medicare and Medicaid including public health and aging issues, is expected to release and consider its version of health reform legislation this month. Key components of the HELP Committee’s outline include:

  • assuring reliable, high-quality, affordable health insurance for all, including making available the option of a public plan;
  • creating a higher quality, more efficient delivery system, including implementation of strategies to reduce hospital readmissions;
  • promoting prevention and wellness;
  • financing long-term services and support to ensure that vulnerable populations have access to meaningful, affordable coverage;
  • investing in efforts to fight health care fraud and abuse; and
  • establishing shared responsibility between individuals, employers, insurers, and providers, and paying appropriately and fairly for reform.

The HELP Committee’s outline shares many aspects of the health reform policy options being considered by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs is also expected to release and consider its version of health reform legislation this month. The two committees are expected to merge their efforts and develop one piece of health reform legislation for consideration by the full Senate prior to the chamber’s August recess. Contact: Kevin Krawiecki

DOH and CMS Provide Guidance to Manage Influx of Patients During H1N1 Outbreak

The Department of Health (DOH) issued guidance to hospital chief executive officers of facilities that are managing a large number of people who are presenting to the emergency department (ED) with concerns about Novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The guidance discusses acceptable options to ease the volume of patients presenting to the ED, while still meeting Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requirements.

The guidance includes care for people who have presented to the ED for care, and for hospitals that are seeing a large number of people who have no symptoms or chief complaint but are worried about swine flu.

DOH indicates that a hospital can, at some location before the person reaches the ED, post signs or staff that direct non-ill people who would like or need information about the flu to another site on campus that would not require medical screening, establishment of a medical record, or logging in. This location could serve as an education or information center to ease the public’s concerns about H1N1 and may reduce the volume of patients entering the ED. Contact: Christopher Smith