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Congressman: 3 health care revolutions imminent

March 19, 2013
In The News

Employee Benefit News

By Brian M. Kalish

Despite the progress made through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on health care access, there are challenges to come from health reform, said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) Thursday at the AHIP National Policy Forum in Washington.

Kind, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Health, said he can’t think of a more exciting time to be involved in the health care system.  “I will qualify that by recognizing [it’s also] one of the most frustrating times with all the change and reform,” he added.  “No one claimed this was going to be easy. But it’s necessary.”

Referencing his home state when there has been voluntary collaboration to start developing best practices and quality measures in health care, Kind said, “We have to get better at learning what’s working and what isn’t.”

To that end, he provided three “great revolutions” he sees coming in health care:

1. Build-out of health information technology records: A few years ago, the state of HIT systems was deplorable, Kind said. While acknowledging it is expensive to invest in HIT, he explained it is necessary in order to drive information back to providers and users of health care “so they can start making good decisions with it.”

2. Delivery system reform: Kind said there needs to be a move to patient-centered health care delivery.

3. Changing financial incentives: Kind called this the “holy grail” — to develop a system where the outcome is valued over the fees that are rendered for services. “We have to get financial incentives done right. … We have to work on a parallel track and learn from each other to drive systems that are quality based,” Kind said. “This has had bipartisan support in the past. It is one of those areas in health care that can bring us together in a bipartisan way.”

There are many parts of PPACA that can help with implementation of these reforms, Kind said, including new pilot programs and different payment models “that give us some hope and encouragement.”

However, he acknowledged that “this isn’t going to be easy. … Someone has to have the guts to start having these discussions despite how politically toxic it can be.

“There’s a chance before us to start reforming health care,” he added.  “That’s been I need of reform for a really long time, I’m hoping we can get there.”