FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 29, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
U.S. Automakers Commit to National Initiative for Improving Quality and Value in Health Care
In a meeting today in Detroit with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, executives from GM, Ford and Chrysler Group signed support for a national initiative aimed at improving health care quality, information and cost-effectiveness for employees and their families.
In signing statements of support, G. Richard Wagoner, Jr. of General Motors, William Clay Ford, Jr. of Ford Motor company and Tom LaSorda of Chrysler Group pledged to provide quality and price information about doctors, hospitals and other medical providers for all enrollees in their health care insurance programs. This information will help employees choose health care providers based on the quality of care they deliver and the prices they charge. Earlier in the day, a group of about 30 other Michigan employers signed statements of support. The companies who signed, including the three automakers, cover nearly 2 million people.
In addition, the employers will support health information technology by encouraging the use of recognized interoperability standards in the health IT products used by their health plans. They also pledged to develop incentives for achieving better value in health care, including incentives for high quality care and for more active involvement by employees in choosing their health care services.
These four actions are the "cornerstones" of an initiative launched last November by Secretary Leavitt. By committing to these actions, the Michigan employers are joining a growing number of states and companies that are pledging to make quality and price information available to health plan enrollees in order to enable them to compare providers when they purchase health care services.
"I am proud that GM, Ford, Chrysler and other leading Michigan employers are choosing to support these four cornerstones to achieve better health care and better value for employees and their families," Secretary Leavitt said. "It has not been possible for patients to learn in advance about the quality of care they can expect to receive from a provider, or the cost of the services they will incur. By making this information available, employers can help their employees get better care and better value in health care."
For most purchases, consumers expect to compare cost and quality as they make decisions. But until now, this information has not been available in the health care sector. Patients have not been able to compare provider performance, either on dimensions of quality or on cost.
"With the commitment that employers like these are now making, this situation will change," Secretary Leavitt said. "Patients will come to expect quality and performance information about health care providers. They will expect to have price or cost information in advance to make good value decisions about their care. They will use this information to improve health care value for themselves and their families. And the choices they make will help improve value and health care quality across the health care sector."
Secretary Leavitt recognized the Greater Detroit Area Health Council as a Community Leader, a designation bestowed to organizations who agree to support the cornerstones at the local and regional level. Recognition of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council represents a step in building a national network of regional organizations that bring together local stakeholders to improve health care while holding costs down.
In addition to the "Community Leader" category, six regional pilot projects were established last year under the Better Quality Information for Medicare Beneficiaries (BQIMB) project, in Massachusetts, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona and California. These organizations also support the four national goals, referred to by Secretary Leavitt as "cornerstones" for improving health care value.
President Bush committed federal health programs to these four "cornerstones" through an Executive Order last August. In November, Secretary Leavitt invited all employers, in both the private and public sectors, to take these same four steps. By committing to these goals, he said, "Our individual actions will be aligned toward reaching the common national goal of better health care at lower cost."
More information is available at www.hhs.gov/transparency. For a full list of companies who have signed statements of support, including those signing in Detroit today, visit: http://www.hhs.gov/transparency/employers/statements.html.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: January 20, 2009