Health care waste totals $750 billion, or as much as 30% of health care spending
Click HERE for a copy of Senator Collins’ opening statement
Click HERE for a copy of Senator Casey’s opening statement
Washington, D.C.-- In a bipartisan effort to improve our health care system and reduce costs, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, held a hearing today to examine how innovation can help bend the cost curve while improving patient outcomes. The hearing featured witnesses representing patients, physicians, employers, and insurers, who discussed ongoing challenges in this sector as well as pioneering efforts currently underway that hold significant promise for moderating health costs and revolutionizing patient care.
“Americans have listed health care as the most important problem facing our country. This should come as no surprise. Health care is a deeply personal, complex issue that affects each and every one of us and comprises one-sixth of the American economy,” said Chairman Collins. “If we want to improve the affordability and accessibility of health care, as well as the sustainability of our entitlement programs, we simply must get a handle on cost.”
“There are too many Americans that go without health coverage or can’t afford it simply because the cost is too high. We owe patients a system that ensures they can afford the care they need and guarantees that no matter what illness or accident they endure, they will not be denied health insurance,” said Ranking Member Casey. “This is why I will continue fighting for key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, so that we can keep our promise to protect the 5.3 million Pennsylvanians, and millions more throughout the U.S., with pre-existing conditions.”
David Howes, MD, the President and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care in Portland, Maine, provided the Committee with an overview of the health care landscape for older individuals in Maine and described what Martin’s Point Health Care is doing to address the needs of this population. He went on to discuss several examples of innovative programs and methods of care they have developed to support the seniors they serve. At Martin’s Point, they believe that by focusing on advanced prevention, they can build care models that allow their patients and members to live longer, healthier lives with with few costly acute interventions. These efforts are contributing to the steady transformation of health care in Maine by improving health outcomes, while driving down costs for patients and members, providers, and the overall health care delivery system.
Jeff Micklos, the Executive Director of the Health Care Transformation Task Force in Washington, D.C., discussed the history of ACOs, which he called the most prolific vehicle for value-based payments to-date. For example, in 2017, there were more than 923 public and private ACOs covering approximately 32.4 million lives across the country. Today, 656 Medicare ACOs cover almost one-third of the entire Medicare Fee-for-Service population. The Health Care Transformation Task Force is a diverse group of more than 40 private sector stakeholders across the industry – including providers, health plans, employers, and consumers – that support accelerating the pace of delivery system transformation. Task Force members have a goal of having 75 percent of their business in value-based payment arrangements by 2020.
Sean Cavanaugh, the Chief Administrative Officer of Aledade, spoke about his company’s efforts to help independent physicians thrive in value-based programs such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program and similar accountable care organization (ACO) arrangements with commercial payers. Mr. Cavanaugh’s testimony focused on three main points: (1) value-based care is working; (2) physician-focused models are performing best; and (3) Congress and CMS can make changes to make these models even more attractive. According to Mr. Cavanaugh, ACOs are the cornerstone of CMS’s value-based payments that reduce costs and improve quality. His organization, Aledade, currently operates accountable care organizations (ACOs) across 18 states and in partnership with more than 330,000 patients in more than 300 practices.
Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, the Director of Advocacy & Consumer Engagement at the Consumer Health Coalition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, discussed the importance of including the perspective of the consumer voice in health care. She also explained how the Consumer Health Coalition (CHC) educates and activates consumers to be engaged and to take charge of their own health care decisions. CHC believes that access to quality, affordable health care, and ultimately good health and wellness, are critical to a person’s ability to reach his or her potential. CHC educates the community on pertinent health policy issues, enrolls eligible Pennsylvanians in public health insurance programs, and offers “patient activation” trainings. She also mentioned the importance of access to affordable health care, including for those with preexisting conditions, and the importance of Medicaid.
Under Senators Collins and Casey’s leadership, the Aging Committee has taken a multi-pronged approach to fighting the escalating cost of health care. The Committee has also emphasized the need for more investment in biomedical research on diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease that have significant human and financial costs.