Weekly Roundup: Eyeing the Solutions

October 21, 2011

We have often said on this blog and in other forums that providing long-term, preventive solutions is critical to curbing the escalating health care costs currently driven by chronic disease. That’s why it’s encouraging to see in this week’s news inside and outside of the Beltway that an increasing number of organizations, companies and individuals are putting the spotlight back on these solutions and showing how they can truly change – for the better – America’s collective health.

For starters, as many of you know, the Obama administration released yesterday the final rule of Medicare accountable care organizations that essentially make it easier for doctor and hospitals to participate. According to The Wall Street Journal: "Under the government program, providers who form accountable-care organizations for Medicare patients would be scored on their performance in meeting dozens of clinical and financial criteria. ... CMS officials said that they thought between 50 and 270 organizations would sign up in the next three years, about double the number that indicated they would take part in the version the agency previously drafted. Those organizations would be responsible for as many as two million Medicare beneficiaries.” More details on the rule can be found here.

In addition, last Wednesday, the National Journal hosted “The Cost Equation: Affordable, Efficient and High Quality Care for Improved Outcomes”– a panel drawing together several thought leaders, including PFCD’s Ken Thorpe and former CMS Administrator Thomas Scully, to discuss the ongoing issue of rising health care costs. Among the numerous solutions examined by the panel, the discussion kept coming back to ways in which we can tackle the increasing rate of chronic disease in our country. Even though most chronic illnesses are preventable when the appropriate measures are taken, 75 percent of health care dollars are spent treating these illnesses annually. Mr. Scully was quick to point out that we need Americans to start acting rationally and behaving responsibly when it comes to managing their health. In order to achieve this, we must reform the system to give people the means to achieve a higher standard of healthy living. To view the entire policy summit, visit the National Journal’s website for the video stream:

Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post attended the panel discussion and spoke with Ken Thorpe about the future of the Prevention and Public Health Fund – a fund that we at the PFCD have long-supported and still believe represents our national commitment to making a dent in the leading cause of death, disability, and rising healthcare costs in America – chronic disease.

Ms. Kliff’s article also referenced the Cleveland Clinic, which reduced smoking among its employees from 15.4 percent to 6.8 percent since 2005. On Wednesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had an intriguing article about the Clinic’s newest endeavor – a healthy-food initiative that’s tracking to decrease health care costs. The health plan, which has a total membership of 70,000 employees and their dependents, is showing an “unusual rate of success with chronic diseases” with nearly 50 percent of enrollees participating in programs to manage their disease in comparison to the average 15 percent nationally.

What solutions are you seeing help curb the rising costs of health care? Let us know at We would love to hear from you.