The single biggest issue with both the Senate and the House health-care reform bills is that neither meaningfully and comprehensively attacks either the drivers of higher cost and mediocre quality in our current health-care system. I strongly support an amendment to current Section 3502 in the Senate amendment to House Bill 3590, which would beef up the creation and spread of patient-centered coordinated care models for Medicare, Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, and federal-established health insurance exchange patients.
The current Senate bill contemplates a grant program for the creation of community-based health teams to support primary care physicians, but it lacks several critical components:
• A mechanism for drawing on appropriated funding to get it done nationwide;
• A direction to Congress and HHS to make this available to all Medicare participants within a specified time frame;
• A requirement that a coordinated community care team use an integrated, interoperable electronic health record; and
• A decision to expand this concept beyond Medicare to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.
The reason this type of amendment is so critical is that too much of the Senate and House focus has been on expanding insurance access and affordability and finding ways to pay for it. We need to find ways to reduce hospital readmissions and costs arising from poor care coordination, and to increase the use of modern technology tools that will reduce cost and improve care.
The Senate and House bills are too timid at this stage in attacking cost and quality issues. Without this kind of amendment, we will see more insured people being piled into an already dysfunctional system.