Sebelius: Healthcare 'getting stronger'

Innovations in care delivery and President Obama's signature health law are transforming American medicine for the better, the top U.S. health official said Tuesday.

In wide-ranging remarks to a medical conference in Washington, D.C., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius thanked physicians for tolerating the challenges of a changing U.S. healthcare system.

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"I understand that the change is not easy," Sebelius told members of the American Medical Association. "As we transition into an era of integrated, patient-centered care, it's inevitable that there will be some growing pains. But I do think that moving forward is the only option."

Sebelius cited accountable care organizations, bundled payment initiatives and electronic health records among the areas where innovations have led to lower costs and "significant, measurable improvements in Americans' health."

"The state of American healthcare is getting stronger," she said. "These are no longer isolated pilots. They are becoming the face of American medicine."

To applause, Sebelius called for Congress to reform doctors' Medicare payments. She indicated that current legislative efforts to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula could bear fruit in the next term.