November 2, 2010

Federal health reform makes sweeping changes designed to bring about near-universal insurance coverage and transform how health care is provided and paid for throughout the United States. It provides historic and substantial opportunities to make affordable health insurance coverage a reality for most New Yorkers.

Controlling health care costs will be essential to achieving and sustaining large expansions in coverage. After decades of rapid growth in health care costs, ballooning Federal deficits and State budget shortfalls make cost containment more urgent than ever. Without thoughtful approaches to lowering the actual costs of providing quality care, policymakers and providers will be tempted to adopt blunt, across-the-board cuts that could impair quality of care or reduce access.

At the conference, Dr. Glenn Steele, President and CEO of Geisinger Health System, began the conversation with a keynote presentation on his organization’s approach to transforming health care through innovation, measurement, and quality improvement. Dr. Steele emphasized that 30-40% of health care adds little value, and that it takes an integrated approach to move toward a higher-performing system. Tools such as health information technology are important, but strategies to improve care and reduce costs must also ensure that health providers and payers work together to develop goals and solutions.

Following his presentation, Kathy Kuhmerker, Managing Director of The Lewin Group, reviewed key highlights of the NYHealth-supported report, Bending the Health Care Cost Curve in New York State. Pat Wang, President and CEO of Healthfirst, and Sean Cavanaugh, Director of Health Care Finance at the United Hospital Fund, shared their reactions to the policy options–from establishing Accountable Care Organizations to expanding hospital pay-for-performance systems.

The final panel looked at initiatives already underway in New York State to improve care and reduce costs. Dr. David Weissman, Education Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, noted that palliative care can save $6,000 per hospital admission while improving the quality of life for patients and their family members. Stephen Rosenthal, Chief Operating Officer, CMO, of Montefiore Medical Center, highlighted the work of the Bronx Collaborative program to improve care transitions and reduce hospital readmissions. Finally, Susan Stuard, Executive Director of THINC, discussed efforts to pursue Accountable Care Organizations and outcomes-based reimbursement in the Hudson Valley.

To download the panelists’ PowerPoint presentations, please click the links below:

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