Commonwealth Fund: 10 Policies That Can Stabilize Healthcare Spending

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Large-scale provider payment reforms, encouraging better patient decisions through information and changing the paradigm of the healthcare market could slow U.S. healthcare spending by $2 trillion by 2023, according to a report from The Commonwealth Fund (pdf).

Healthcare spending in the United States currently represents 18 percent of gross domestic product, and by 2023, that total could grow to 23 percent. However, CMS reported this week that national healthcare expenditures only grew 3.9 percent in 2011, which continued a historically low growth rate over the past few years.

The three broad strategies of provider payments, consumer decisions and system-wide healthcare reform could curtail spending, the report said. Furthermore, Commonwealth Fund advisers outlined 10 policies the United States should implement within its healthcare system to save upwards of $2 trillion by 2023:

1. Replace the sustainable growth rate formula that determines Medicare physician fees with a system that pays providers who participate in payment and delivery system innovations.

2. Continue to strengthen primary care and team-based care coordination efforts for patients with chronic diseases.

3. Accelerate the implementation of hospital bundled payments.

4. Adopt payment reforms that align the goals of public payors, such as Medicare, and private health insurers. Shared savings or global payment strategies with hospitals and health systems is one example to spur that reform.

5. Offer Medicare beneficiaries a "Medicare Essential" plan that provides more comprehensive benefits and protects beneficiaries from massive costs. This can be used to compete with the traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

6. Steer Medicare and Medicaid patients toward patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations and integrated delivery health systems.

7. Provide consumers with more easy-to-use information options, so they can compare clinical outcomes, patient experiences and prices.

8. Simplify policies and procedures on the back end so administrative costs can be drastically reduced.

9. Reform medical malpractice by balancing fair compensation for patients with the promotion of patient safety.

10. Set healthcare spending targets for the nation, states, regions and local municipalities across all payors and providers. For example, similar to Massachusetts' healthcare spending law, the system should "target total combined public and private spending to grow at a rate no greater than economic growth per capita," according to the report.

More Articles on Healthcare Spending:

U.S. Health Spending Growth Remains Historically Low in 2011
Partners HealthCare Absorbs $42M Tax Under New State Health Law
National Health Spending Growth Stays Below 4% for 6th Straight Month

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