Quality, Costs Addressed at Medicaid Commission Meeting
Improving health care quality likely is the best way to reduce Medicaid spending, Institute for Healthcare Improvement President Donald Berwick, said Tuesday during a speech to the federal Medicaid commission, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/12).
The commission, whose members HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt appointed in July 2005, was established as a result of negotiations over the fiscal year 2006 federal budget to make recommendations on short- and long-term reforms to Medicaid. The commission in September 2005 in a report to Congress made recommendations on how to reduce Medicaid spending growth by $10 billion over five years.
The commission by the end of December is scheduled to issue a second report to Congress that includes recommendations on long-term reforms to Medicaid (California Healthline, 6/16).
Berwick said that other nations provide higher quality care at lower prices than the U.S., though he added, "Dramatic improvement [in the U.S.] is possible." Berwick said improvements could be made in treating chronic illnesses, noting that about 30% of U.S. hospital admissions are avoidable.
Poor physician payment incentives and a discrepancy in care among different geographic markets also are hurting the U.S. system, Berwick said. He said the U.S. should have universal health coverage but in doing so should spend no more money than it now does on health care.
"All other industries know how to" improve quality to reduce costs, Berwick said (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/12).