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Proposed Changes to Health Care Would Reduce Costs

Investing in health care reform will improve outcomes, save money

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Simultaneous gains in universal health coverage, improved health outcomes and slowed spending growth would have a major impact on the development of public policy, according to a perspective published in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Karen Davis, Ph.D., of the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, summarized various aspects of investing in health care reform discussed in a report published by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System. The Commission proposed several health care policies, including the creation of a national health insurance exchange, investment in changes to the health care system such as adoption of health information technology, new incentives to improve prudent and truthful accountability for patient outcomes, and implementation of public health changes such as increasing taxes on harmful products.

The report further shows that an individual mandate to obtain health insurance coverage coupled with income-related assistance would lead to near-universal coverage. Additionally, these proposed changes could significantly reduce health care spending, resulting in a cumulative savings of $3 trillion by 2020, the author suggests.

"Currently, the secretary of health and human services does not have sufficient flexibility to test and fine-tune savings strategies on a statewide or regional basis. I believe that the secretary should be given far greater authority, with accountability to the President and Congress -- perhaps with the advice of a council of independent experts -- to act as a prudent purchaser, test new payment and system reforms, and rapidly spread and implement promising reforms," Davis writes.

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