Health Care News (Heartland Institute), March 1, 2009
An alliance of 28 health care stakeholders—including consumer groups, providers, health plans, and government organizations—has released an agenda for what its members say are needed reforms to the U.S. health care system.
The stated goal of the alliance, called the National Priorities Partnership (NPP), is to “improve patient care and outcomes” and “cut waste.” Members include AARP, the American Nurses Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Consumers Union, and the National Institutes of Health, among others.
“There is broad consensus among Americans that health care needs real change,” said NPP co-chair Margaret O’Kane, president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, in a release. “We must capitalize on this opportunity to improve safety and effectiveness and eliminate waste. The partnership represents unprecedented consensus—we have brought the right players together at the right time to effect positive, meaningful change.”
John R. Graham, director of health care studies at the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute, disputed the partnership’s claims of consensus and meaningful change. “The National Priorities Partnership reiterates what we already know about waste and inefficiency in U.S. health care,” he said.
“What is remarkable is how little responsibility the health care elites who control the partnership take for the situation,” Graham continued.
“The partnership states, ‘With each member wielding influence over major portions of health care delivery, the coalition has the power to set in motion a national movement to deliver transformative improvements,’ and then declares its dependence on Congress to make change.
“Why don’t they just get on with their agenda and stop waiting for the politicians?” Graham asked.
NPP says it hopes to effect change through its numerous participating organizations. Because the members play major roles in various parts of the health care system, proponents say the group will be capable of inciting a national movement towards real and substantive health care reform.
“The fact is, our health care system will not improve until dollars are given back to Americans to spend on their own health care, free of interference,” countered Graham. “Too many of these health care elites fear just such a transformation.”
“It sounds good, but is it more than just platitudes?” asked Greg Scandlen, director of Consumers for Health Care Choices at The Heartland Institute. He is unconvinced the partnership will be successful in cutting waste and improving patient care and outcomes.
“I don’t trust stakeholder groups to reform themselves, nor do I trust government to fix messes for which they bear a large responsibility,” Scandlen said. “What I do trust is empowered patients demanding reform and enforcing those demands by controlling the money.”
Aricka Flowers ([email protected]) writes from Illinois.
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