NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 27, 2009

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is correct when he cautions that "the health system is so complex that any solution will demand time and attention to make sure that we get it right."  But how exactly do we go about getting it right in making needed corrections to our health care system, asks Spencer Berthelsen, chairman of the board of directors of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic?

To make progress toward improving quality and containing costs, serious consideration should be given to organized systems of care because they include some of the most trusted names in health care, such as The Mayo Clinic, Kaiser-Permanente, the Geisinger Clinic, Scott and White Clinic, Intermountain Health care and, locally, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. 

And recent studies strongly suggest that these organized systems of care are needed in America:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in August reported the results of its Physician Group Practice Demonstration project -- concluding that 10 participating multispecialty physician groups saved Medicare $17.4 million while improving health care outcomes.
  • A Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinic Practice study found that University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) spent more than $93,000 per patient over the last two years of life, while the Mayo Clinic spent $53,432.
  • Chronically ill patients had more than twice as many physician visits at UCLA compared with Mayo, and they spent almost 50 percent more days in the hospital.
  • Medicare's Payment Advisory Commission states that creating incentives to "encourage physicians to form or join high-performing multi-specialty medical groups could achieve more organized systems of care and thereby improve the health care provided to Medicare beneficiaries while reducing costs."

Fixing the nation's health care system is a daunting task with many complexities to consider. Today, organized systems of care are providing millions of Americans with high quality care at a lower overall medical cost. They deserve to be emulated and reinforced, says Berthelsen.

Source: Spencer R. Berthelsen, "Organized systems of care deserve attention," Houston Chronicle, April 19, 2009.


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