Posted on January 10, 2013

Media Contacts:

Rushmie Nofsinger, NEHI
617-225-0857 x203
rnofsinger@nehi.net

Jill A. Becher, WellPoint
262-523-4764  
jill.becher@wellpoint.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

 

REDUCING HEALTH CARE WASTE COULD HELP ADDRESS THE FEDERAL DEFICIT
Health care leaders discuss innovative programs that reduce wasteful spending

WASHINGTON, DC (January 10, 2013) – On the heels of the fiscal cliff deadline and ongoing budgetary concerns, Dr. Michael McGinnis of the Institute of Medicine said at an event hosted by NEHI and WellPoint, Inc. today that reducing the federal deficit is tied to controlling health care costs. He added that wasteful spending and inefficiencies in the delivery of care are contributing to rising health care expenditures and this is hurting the country’s overall economic competitiveness.

“We need a multi-faceted approach to change prices, culture and operations,” Dr. McGinnis said. 

Dr. McGinnis was joined by other health care policymakers, including Dr. William Shrank of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation and Wendy Everett of NEHI, who agreed that a common sense approach to curbing rising health care costs, which currently represent a fifth of the U.S. economy, is to garner support for innovative programs that have the potential to reduce health care waste and inefficiencies by $521 billion. The event was held at the Capitol Hill Visitor Center. 

The discussion focused on seven critical areas of health care waste that national health policy think tank, NEHI, identified as costing the system approximately $521 billion. If addressed with innovative programs, such as those cropping up around the country and detailed in a new NEHI publication, there is a significant opportunity to chip away at the $800 billion dollars of waste in system (as estimated by the Institute of Medicine). 

NEHI’s new publication is a series of interviews with practitioners who have developed innovative programs to address waste in the seven areas. At the forum, Dr. Samuel Nussbaum of WellPoint and Dr. Eric Weil of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization presented models developed by their respective organizations to improve care and coordination, and reduce inefficiencies. Their presentations were followed by a moderated roundtable discussion with Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute, Helen Darling of the National Business Group on Health, and Daniel Wolfson of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation.

“The CareMore model delivers optimal patient care,” said Dr. Nussbaum. “The comprehensive team-based approach to patient-centered care makes it easier for seniors, especially those with multiple chronic conditions, to get the services they need. As a result, we have seen positive outcomes such as improved diabetes care that ranks with the best in the nation, and care for individuals with heart disease, using health professionals to guide care and technologies such as remote monitoring, to achieve an impressive 50 percent reduction in readmissions for congestive heart failure patients.”   

The meeting is a joint effort between NEHI and WellPoint, Inc., and is an activity of Bend the Curve, an educational campaign the two organizations launched to reduce health care spending and improve care quality.  The campaign focuses on the following seven issues: medication errors, hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions, patient medication adherence, emergency department overuse, hospital readmissions, antibiotic overuse and vaccine underuse.

“Bendthe Curve is a very important effort to spur dialogue on how we actually start to reduce inefficiencies in the system,” said NEHI President Wendy Everett. “There is more recognition that waste exists but it’s time to identify the best solutions and how they can be replicated nationally.”

 

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About NEHI 
NEHI is a national health policy institute focused on enabling innovation to improve health care quality and lower health care costs. In partnership with members from all across the health care system, NEHI conducts evidence-based research and stimulates policy change to improve the quality and the value of health care. Together with this unparalleled network of committed health care leaders, NEHI brings an objective, collaborative and fresh voice to health policy. For more information, visit www.nehi.net for follow us @NEHI_News.

 

About WellPoint, Inc. 
At WellPoint, we believe there is an important connection between our members’ health and well-being—and the value we bring our customers and shareholders. So each day we work to improve the health of our members and their communities. And, we can make a real difference since we have approximately 36 million people in our affiliated health plans, and approximately 66 million people served through our subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint’s plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare and in certain markets through our Amerigroup and CareMore subsidiaries. Our 1-800 CONTACTS, Inc. subsidiary offers customers online sales of contact lenses, eyeglasses and other ocular products. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

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