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A Perspective on Current Health Reform Issues from Mayo Clinic

January 22, 2010

Keep Patient-Centered Reform Moving Forward
Reforming health care in America will not become easier with the passage of time. The status quo is not sustainable, and Mayo Clinic remains firmly committed to moving forward with patient-centered reform.

We at Mayo Clinic encourage all stakeholders – government officials, patients, insurers, providers and employers – to work together to pass reforms that provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

A reminder of the current state of American health care:

• Over 46 million uninsured Americans;

• Skyrocketing costs – health care consumes about 16 percent of the gross domestic product;

• Uneven quality and safety of medical care, with about 100,000 people dying from medical errors each year;

• An increasing number of physicians closing their practices to Medicare and Medicaid patients because reimbursement doesn’t cover costs; and

• Medicare’s imminent collapse. In 2011 – next year – the first baby boomers will qualify for Medicare. This marks the beginning of a huge influx of Medicare beneficiaries and will put significant strain on the program’s already precarious financial position.

Over the past four years, the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center has convened more than 2,000 stakeholders – including providers, academics, medical industry leaders, businesspeople, insurers, political leaders and patients – for a series of events to help develop consensus-driven principles for reform.  Those recommendations include four cornerstones:

Create Value
Improve patient health outcomes and satisfaction with U.S. health care. Decrease medical errors, costs and waste.

Coordinate Care
Coordinate patient services across people, functions, activities, locations and time.

Reform the Payment System
Change the way providers are paid in order to improve health and minimize waste.

Provide Health Insurance for All
Provide guaranteed, portable health insurance for all individuals, giving them choice, control and peace of mind.

We believe that the government has an important role to play in accomplishing two of these cornerstones – reforming the payment system and providing insurance for all.

Therefore, we believe there must be two core elements in any successful reform measure:

• Change the Medicare payment system to create incentives for doctors and hospitals to offer the highest quality care at the most reasonable cost, thus increasing the value of health care.

• Coordinate basic, private insurance offerings and provide sliding-scale subsidies to enable all Americans to purchase health insurance.

Each major stakeholder plays a role in reform and must contribute something to the process – be it a patient making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle or a physician investing in interoperable health information technology for sharing medical records. We remain hopeful that lawmakers will come together to support reform legislation aimed at achieving high-quality, affordable care for all Americans.

This perspective is written by Jeffrey O. Korsmo, Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center; and Bruce Kelly, Director of Government Relations, Mayo Clinic.

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