3 quick takeaways from the Senate’s final hearing on health costs  

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held its final hearing on healthcare costs Nov. 28, this time with a focus on innovation.

Witnesses included Lee Gross, MD, family physician and founder of Epiphany Health Direct Primary Care in North Port, Fla.; Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, president of clinical services and CMO of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare; Cheryl DeMars, president and CEO of The Alliance, a nonprofit healthcare purchasing cooperative based in Madison, Wis., and owned by 240 employers; and Dow Constantine, an executive of King County in Seattle.

Here are three quick takeaways from their testimony:

  1. Cutting out the middlemen  — the insurers — can significantly lower costs associated with  primary care. Dr. Gross testified on direct primary care, a model used in his practice that he described as "like Netflix for healthcare." It operates similar to a concierge medicine model, but at a lower price point, and has been very successful in his market. Similarly, Ms. DeMars discussed how 240 small to midsize employers in the Midwest were able to lower healthcare costs by banding together and contracting directly with hospitals and physicians.
  1. Dr. Perlin of HCA Healthcare discussed the importance of safety in three clinical examples: elective pre-term deliveries, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections and sepsis. "Safety is more efficient," he said.
  1. Mr. Constantine discussed the benefits of value-based payment models, like ACOs and bundled payments, and how promoting these models and preventive care has significantly lowered the costs of healthcare for King County employees.


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Insurance 'for-profit death panels' ripped by New York's new Democrat rep
Montana health system to restructure leadership, modify 130 roles

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