FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
U.S. Health Care Sector Moves Rapidly To Provide Consumer Information on Value
America’s health care sector is shifting rapidly to a system where patients can get better information about the quality and cost of their care, and there is competition to provide them with the best value, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said today at a roundtable of key business, union, government, community, and health care leaders from across the U.S.
Less than a year after launching his Value-Driven Health Care Initiative, Secretary Leavitt announced that more than 100 million Americans are now served by health plans that are committed to providing consumers with transparent quality and cost information. The federal government; half of the states; about 775 employers, including almost half of the top 200 U.S. corporations; and numerous unions, communities, doctors and hospitals have joined the movement.
“We are organizing the health care market to achieve better quality health care, at lower cost, for all Americans. That is the definition of value,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Yet until now, our health care system has been marked by a lack of consumer information to support value-based decisions.”
In August of 2006, President Bush signed an Executive Order committing the federal government to the “four cornerstones” of value-driven care: health information technology, public reporting of provider quality information, public reporting of cost information, and incentives for value comparison. Since that time, Secretary Leavitt has traveled to 34 states to talk to communities that are piloting this approach, medical associations that are assisting in the development of quality information, businesses, unions, and other employers who are interested in implementing this approach for their employees.
Most plans that are committed to the value-based approach, including all federal agencies that contract with health plans, will embody the principles of value-driven care in their next contracting cycle, generally for 2008. And most enrollees in these plans are expected to have access to Web-based “report cards” on quality or cost within the next 12 months.
Progress toward a value-driven system is being made because of action across the spectrum of stakeholders:
Employers: As of this month, about 775 employers have committed their health plans to value-based, consumer information approaches, representing about 21 million employees and their families covered by company health plans. A total of 97 of the top 200 U.S. corporations, as well as 25 states and state employee health plans have committed to value-driven care.
Federal Health Programs: Federal programs were committed to value-driven approaches under Executive Order 13410, signed by President Bush on August 22, 2006. These include approximately 43 million persons covered under Medicare, almost 5 million covered under the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 8 million covered under Defense Department programs, about 3.5 million federal employees and families with insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, and more than 1 million Native Americans covered under the Indian Health Service. All federal programs that contract with health plans will include language in their next contracting cycle to incorporate consumer reporting and other value-driven features in their plans
- Medicaid: The initiative is also securing commitments from state Medicaid programs, although implementation of the four cornerstones will be customized in accordance with the needs of this vulnerable population. So far, 18 states and the District of Columbia have committed to the initiative, representing more than 26 million enrollees. In addition, 23 other state Medicaid programs with 20 million enrollees are pursuing value-based principles, with a particular focus on the encouragement of Health Information Technology adoption, quality measurement, and appropriate incentives.
Health Plans: Companies that provide health insurance plans have been leaders in developing value-based approaches. This includes a growing number of Web-based “report card” products that make it easy to look up assessments of performance and costs by health care providers.
Providers and Regional Collaboratives: Of special importance is leadership by physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals in creating standards of care. Accurate and reliable standards can help deliver effective care to patients while also helping in the measurement of quality of care. As part of the initiative, a system of local and regional collaborative organizations are being formed to bring providers, payers and others together to measure and report on quality and costs of care.
“We must have the leadership of physicians and other health professionals to achieve reliable information about health care quality and costs,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Medical associations and others have begun the work of developing quality standards and cost measurement, but we have many years of work ahead of us to achieve the wide-ranging and meaningful quality standards we need.”
Compared with other industries, little quality and cost information has been available to health consumers until recently.
“Consumers have extensive information to help them make good choices when they buy cars or get mortgages,” Secretary Leavitt said. “But when it comes to choices about their health care, little information about quality or cost has been available. The purpose of the Value-Driven Health Care movement is to make that information available, and then reward people for using it.”More information on Value-Driven Health Care is available at www.hhs.gov/valuedriven.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: January 20, 2009