CWF president argues with feds over healthcare spending

January 20, 2012 in Medical Technology

WASHINGTON – Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund and a nationally recognized economist, has a bone to pick with the federal government’s recent report on U.S. healthcare spending.

Growth in U.S. health spending remained slow in 2010 and the health share of the gross domestic product was unchanged from 2009, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported.

But Davis, who formerly served as the deputy assistant to the U.S. secretary for health policy, wrote in a blog on Thursday that CMS overlooked in their report the lower spending that is projected through the end of the decade.

“Either the original estimates were too high,” Davis wrote, “or the tectonic plates underlying the health system are beginning to shift in anticipation of new incentives under health reform or in response to healthcare leaders’ efforts to transform care over the last decade.”

[See also: Gartner looks beyond 2012, sees big changes for payers, providers .]

“Predictions that the Affordable Care Act would fail to control costs and, in fact, accelerate spending have not been borne out by the early experience,” Davis wrote.

The reduction in projected national health spending is particularly important, Davis said, because the pre-reform estimate of healthcare costs was used by the Congressional Budget Office and the CMS Office of the Actuary in gauging the cost and impact of health reform. Davis says that new projections for both the costs of covering the uninsured and Medicare spending are substantially below pre-reform estimates. 

Davis also discusses healthcare delivery changes that may have contributed to slower spending growth, including private sector initiatives promoting improved safety methods, performance benchmarks and high-value care, as well as recent legislation that has encouraged more hospitals and doctors to make meaningful use of health information technology. 

Read Davis’s blog here.

[See also: Federal health IT market set to grow to $6.5B by 2016.]

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.

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