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Advocates from Across Health Sector Promote Permanent SGR Repeal and Broader Payment Reform Opportunities

May 9, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC—Growing momentum on Capitol Hill behind a permanent repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and related opportunities for broader physician payment reform drew advocates from across the health sector today to a National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) forum today. “2013 is the year to put the SGR behind us and move toward delivering higher-quality, well-coordinated care at lower cost,” said John Rother, NCHC’s President and CEO and moderator of the event.

NCHC Enlists Consumer Groups, Businesses and Insurers in Push for 2013 SGR Reform

April 29, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), joined by leading consumer and disease organizations, medical societies, business organizations, and pension funds, urged a bipartisan effort to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula and  transition toward value-based reimbursement in Medicare in a letter sent to Congressional chairmen Friday. “No longer is this just a physicians’ issue. Payment approaches based on value, not volume, are essential to affordability for consumers, payers and taxpayers,” said NCHC President and CEO John Rother. The letter was addressed to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). Since its enactment in 1997, the SGR has threatened to impose across-the-board cuts to reimbursement for physicians and other providers paid through Medicare the physician fee schedule. Congress has responded with a series of temporary measures to avert the cuts. However, this year, a newly reduced estimate of the budgetary impact of a permanent repeal has sparked renewed interest in a longer-term solution.

NCHC Joins Health Care Groups in Sending Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act Letter to the Hill

April 17, 2013

On Wednesday, April 17th, the National Coalition on Health Care joined forces with 34 other leading health care organizations on a letter urging passage of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act (MDPA). In 2012, diabetes costs reached $245 billion, a 41% increase in just the past five years. To help curb this trend, the MDPA would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries at risk of diabetes could participate in the Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidence-based, cost effective community program empowers patients to take charge of their health, and it has proven to significantly reduce the rate of diabetes onset among participants. The legislation has been introduced as S.452 by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and as HR 962 by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA).

NCHC Joins Diverse Effort to Curb Health Care Spending While Improving Quality

April 11, 2013

Washington, D.C.—NCHC joined four other organizations representing diverse constituencies involved in the nation’s health care to present five consensus recommendations today for improving health care quality while lowering costs nationwide. Calling itself the Partnership for Sustainable Health Care, the group includes nationally prominent advocates for employers, insurers, consumers, health care providers and others. Participants include America’s Health Insurance Plans, Ascension Health, Families USA, National Coalition on Health Care and Pacific Business Group on Health. “These five ideas are game-changers that can place our health system on a sustainable path. Together, they can provide significant long-term relief for families and businesses facing rising costs and uneven quality,” said John Rother, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care. “By encouraging new forms of health care delivery and spending our health care dollars more wisely, they can produce the real health-cost reform that our elected leaders in Washington have been searching for.”

Obama Budget Includes Smart Health Care Savings

April 10, 2013

“Overall, the President’s plan relies heavily on laudable, smart savings ideas to curb the cost of health care. But this budget’s promise is marred by certain cost-shifting proposals that are not ready for prime-time. The size of the budget’s proposed health savings is a major subject of debate in Washington. But if you care about the affordability of Medicare and private health insurance, the real test is how those savings would be achieved. Would this budget spend our health care dollars wisely by using prevention to curb the cost of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and by attacking the billions of waste in our system? Or would it just shift costs borne by the federal government onto beneficiaries, states, or the private sector? The President’s budget does indeed roll back the meat-ax sequestration cuts now imposed on Medicare providers, community health centers, prevention programs, and medical research. It also includes several policies that align closely with the National Coalition on Health Care’s (NCHC) own recommendations to achieve budgetary savings in Medicare and transform our broader health system.”

MedPAC’s Smart Savings Ideas Urgently Deserve Congressional Attention

March 15, 2013

“With the sequester’s $128 billion in meat-ax provider cuts in place and Congress debating whether to shift billions more onto beneficiaries and states, there is no reason that “smart savings” ideas like that of MedPAC should be left on the shelf for another year. If properly designed and implemented, these policy changes could save tens of billions in Medicare costs while protecting vulnerable beneficiaries. They are consistent with NCHC’s own Plan for Health and Fiscal Policy. The problem is that today is not the first time MedPAC has raised these issues. Each of these three recommendations is at least a year old, but Congress has yet to act on them. Those with a stake in Medicare’s future, including beneficiaries, taxpayers and health care providers, should not have to wait any longer.”

Generic Drug Competition Key to “Smart Savings” Approach to Budget

March 13, 2013

“This proposal to spur generic drug competition is one important example of the “smart savings” we need to roll back the sequester and meet the nation’s fiscal challenges. Greater generic use can generate billions in federal savings without shifting costs to consumers, states or the private sector.  Recommendations to close the REMS loopholes, promote medication adherence, promote biologic drug competition, reform payment for Medicare Part B drugs, and incentivize greater generic use by state Medicaid programs enjoy support from the provider, payer, and consumer organizations that make up the National Coalition on Health Care and were important elements of our NCHC Plan for Health and Fiscal Policy released last November. With the battle lines over the budget deepening this week, these recommendations are a great place to begin the search for common ground.”

Capitol Hill Forum Inserts Sugary Drinks and Tax Policy into Budget Debate

February 12, 2013

Health care stakeholders, nutrition advocates and budget experts highlighted the role that sugary drinks play in our nation’s rising health care costs and explored proposals to tax those beverages at a Capitol Hill forum today. According to one of the featured panelists, Dr. Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of CSPI, “Taxing soda could be an economic windfall for taxpayers, and a health windfall for all.” Jacobson spoke as part of an expert panel that included Dr. Rachel Johnson, Chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and the Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont, and Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  Rother moderated the event. According to Rother, “This is a matter of basic responsibility. If sugary drinks are inflating all our health care bills, why shouldn’t those responsible help cover that cost?”

Rother Praises Gamechanging Payment Reforms

February 6, 2013

Statement by John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care, on the Introduction of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2013: “The Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act is the one piece of bipartisan, introduced legislation that delivers the real reform our health care system needs, moving us away from today’s fee-for-service system to high-quality, low-cost care. This is not just a doctor’s issue. It is vital for anyone who cares about the rising cost of health care. That’s because today’s payment system rewards the volume and complexity of care, not its quality or value. With the new lower score from the CBO, it is vital that Congress move this year to reform physician reimbursement policy. Our health system needs to do a better job of delivering value, and patients, consumers, and purchasers all have a stake in moving forward. We simply can’t afford to wait another year.”

Politico article by Sen. Durenberger calls for real reform, in line with NCHC’s priorities

February 4, 2013

Former Senator and current NCHC Board Member David Durenberger calls for real reform of our nation’s health system in a Jan. 31’s Politico. To access the op-ed, click here.

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