Sebelius Outlines Affordable Care Act Impact on Care

On Dec. 7, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivered a keynote address at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 22nd Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Orlando, Fla. Sebelius outlined how the Affordable Care Act improves health care delivery for doctors, improves care for patients and lowers costs.

“Health care costs are the single biggest contributor to our underlying budget deficit in Washington, and they are often at the center of any debate in states about how to balance their budgets in these tough economic times. But we can’t forget that there’s a human cost too,” she said. “Our health care system remains fragmented and disorganized. Even the strongest private sector plans don’t have the reach to bring on wholesale change. And until now, the public sector has been slow to act. In fact, in many ways our public programs are operating in the 20th century while much of the private sector is using 21st century technology and innovation to drive change. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this is changing.”

CMS recently announced the creation of the CMS Innovation Center which is intended to find new ways to improve the quality and affordability of care.

“The Center is already getting busy. We launched four new initiatives that we hope will have early results,” she said before shifting focus to break down what the Affordable Care Act really means to beneficiaries. “When all of these reforms are implemented and we make that shift in earnest from being a volume purchaser to a value purchaser, what will it mean in the lives of the people we want to help?”

Sebelius explained that for patients, they are more likely to have help from care managers, which in turn will likely improve their health and keep them from further hospitalization. Additionally, physicians would have access to the latest research and receive rewards for providing quality patient care, which will act as further incentive for patient follow-up. On a grander scale, for the hospital, new tools and resources measure what it achieves for patients.

“For decades, providers and patients, hospitals, community health centers, employers, insurers, and administrators, have been searching for ways to improve care and lower costs,” she said. “Now, we have a new toolkit at our disposal in the Affordable Care Act.”

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