December 08, 2009

Containing Health Care Costs through Freshman Amendments

Today, I joined with 10 other freshman senators to introduce a package of amendments to health insurance reform, aimed at boosting innovation, affordability & access to care. Our amendments have been endorsed by many of the nation's leading business, consumer and health provider organizations.

Many of them, like the President of the Business Roundtable joined us at a press conference to discuss our cost-cutting amendments and here's what the White House had to say about it:

Moving Forward on Cost-Containment

Posted by Dan Pfeiffer on December 08, 2009 at 01:49 PM EST

If you've been following the health insurance reform debate, you know that from the very beginning we've been focused on how reform legislation can slow the growth of health care costs for families, small businesses, and the government. You've probably heard us talking about "game changers" and "bending the curve" - both shorthand for getting control of skyrocketing costs that are squeezing families and businesses and acting as a drag on American competitiveness.

Both the House bill and the Senate bill incorporate important policy changes that will help drive down health care costs in the long term.

Recently, the Senate's health reform legislation has been praised by economists and health experts for its cost-containment provisions. And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will lower health care premiums and reduce our national deficit.

The Senate is now hard at work debating and amending their bill - and finding ways to make it even stronger on cost-containment.
As part of that effort, eleven freshman Senators held a press conference today to unveil a package of amendments to strengthen the bill's cost provisions. They were joined at the press conference by the President of the Business Roundtable, a group of leading American CEO's who understand as well as anyone the urgency of getting health care costs under control. (So much for a recent editorial claiming the Business Roundtable would stop working constructively on health reform.)

The policies rolled out in today's press conference look encouraging for several reasons. The package would:

  • Develop additional programs to base hospital payments on quality of care.
  • Strengthen provisions to test innovative payment systems and expand successful programs quickly.
  • Create authority to expand accountable care programs - coordinated care by doctor groups - to private plans.
  • Expand authority to create a system to evaluate health plans on the basis of their performance and to help consumers make more informed choices.
  • Reduce insurance company red tape.
  • Expand the authority of the Independent Medicare Advisory Board to make recommendations to slow the growth of national health expenditures.
  • This complements other proposals like that of Senators Specter, Lieberman and Collins to strengthen incentives at all levels - insurers, providers, and patients - to advance high-quality care.
  • There are a lot of good ideas out there, and a lot of ways we can work together to slow the explosive growth in health care costs. It's great to see the Senate so focused on putting more of those ideas into their bill.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director