While most discussion of the new healthcare reform law has focused on insurance coverage, the law provides a “serious platform” to improving the quality of care, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a healthcare quality forum Tuesday afternoon.
“The law is also a serious platform for improving the quality of healthcare and changing the delivery system so we stop doing things that don’t work for patients and starting doing things which do work,” Sebelius said at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 22nd Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Orlando.
Sebelius said the United States spends “a whopping” $700 billion a year — or 30 percent of all healthcare spending — on services that may not improve people’s health. Further, nearly 2 million people’s conditions are worsened by hospital-acquired infections each year, resulting in 99,000 deaths and up to $33 billion in healthcare costs, she said.
“Today, we pay a lot of money for a system that rewards care delivered piece by piece, instead of in a seamless, coordinated manner,” she said. “Some Americans get extraordinary care. But quality varies widely, and far too many of our healthcare dollars go to pay for unnecessary treatments and overhead costs.”
Sebelius praised the new reform law for providing a number of tools to address healthcare quality issues, including a new $10 billion innovation center announced last month to experiment with new payment and care delivery models.
“While the center will be focused on Medicare and Medicaid, the combined purchasing power of those two programs will help the rest of the American healthcare system improve at the same time,” she said.
According to Sebelius, other quality measures created by reform include: a demonstration projection on improving medical homes; an analysis of how HHS can provide patient-centered, coordinated care to low-income patients at federally qualified health centers; and improving quality and care coordination for patients who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid.