Taking a Deeper Look at Reducing Health Care Costs

September 12, 2011

Last week in Washington, I participated in an issue briefing sponsored by Health Affairs and was honored to be joined by many health care stakeholders to share some of my recent research on diabetes and strategies that are making a difference in the fight against this chronic disease and others. At the event several authors from this month’s Health Affairs issue were there to highlight their findings and work relating to the increasing cost burdens and the saving solutions aimed at bolstering America’s ailing health care system and increasingly unhealthy population. 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Dr. Donald Berwick addressed the 500 person crowd and urged those present to continue to preserve, invest in, build and grow programs and policies that would foster a safer, more predictable patient journey through the U.S. health care system. While acknowledging progress already made, Dr. Berwick highlighted the need for an even stronger coordinative function from the public and private sectors as well as openness to change with the public sector leading the charge to cultivate a ripe environment and the private sector serving as an army of support.

Along with Charles Roehrig from the Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending and Jonathan Lever from YMCA of the USA, I discussed disease prevalence, costs, and opportunities for prevention. Highlighted by research conducted in partnership with Zhou Yang, a colleague of mine at Emory, we emphasized the cost savings potential that can be generated by evidence-based lifestyle modification programs, like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, as a means of preventing costly chronic diseases before they even start.

As with all the work being done by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), this Health Affairs event served to further advance awareness of chronic disease and what can be done to address its debilitating effects on our health care system, and ultimately the U.S. economy. Chronic diseases effect 1 in 2 Americans and are increasingly expensive to treat but can be highly preventable. The event was another step in a positive direction to shift the focus of our health care system to keeping people healthy as a means to reduce the $2.5 trillion health care budget.

Please find a link to the full content of my article, “Enrolling People With Prediabetes Ages 60-64 In A Proven Weight Loss Program Could Yield $7 Billion Or More In Medicare Savings”, as well as some of the news coverage of the event. Full audio and video from today’s briefing will also soon be posted on Health Affairs’ events page