President Discusses Health Transparency in Minnesota
"We've got an interesting debate in health care in America. And I guess if I had to summarize how I view it, I would say there's a choice between having the government make decisions or consumers make decisions. I stand on the side of encouraging consumers. I think the most important relationship in health care is between the patient and their provider, the patient and the doc. ... And health care policy ought to be aimed at bolstering the consumer, empowering individuals to be responsible for health care decisions."
- President George W. Bush August 22, 2006
Health Care Transparency: Empowering Consumers to Save on Quality Care
On August 22, 2006, President Bush Signed An Executive Order To Help Increase The Transparency Of America's Health Care System - Empowering Americans To Find Better Value And Better Care. To spend their health care dollars wisely, Americans need to know their options in advance, know the quality of doctors and hospitals in their area, and know what procedures will cost. When Americans buy new cars, they have access to consumer research on safety, reliability, price, and performance - and they should be able to expect the same when they purchase health care.
This Executive Order Directs Federal Agencies That Administer Or Sponsor Federal Health Insurance Programs To:
1. Increase Transparency In Pricing. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to share with beneficiaries information about prices paid to health care providers for procedures.
2. Increase Transparency In Quality. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to share with beneficiaries information on the quality of services provided by doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers.
3. Encourage Adoption Of Health Information Technology (IT) Standards. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to use improved health IT systems to facilitate the rapid exchange of health information.
4. Provide Options That Promote Quality And Efficiency In Health Care. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to develop and identify approaches that facilitate high quality and efficient care.
The Federal Government Is A Major Participant In The Health Care Market. Medicare beneficiaries, health insurance beneficiaries at the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, and Federal employees represent about one-quarter of Americans covered by health insurance. This Executive Order builds on the Federal government's existing efforts to release Medicare payment information for individual health care providers.
Consumers Will Receive Information Through A Collaborative Process. The Federal government will work collaboratively in this process, building on efforts by quality alliances that include a broad range of health care stakeholders to improve quality and cost information. Measures of quality at the provider and health plan level will be developed from private and government sources and will not involve developing or releasing data at the individual patient level. Participation in this process in each area will be governed by various regional stakeholders, including local providers, employers, and health plans and insurers. Consumers will be able to access information from a variety of potential sources, including insurance companies, employers, and Medicare-sponsored websites.
The President Has A Clear Agenda To Make Health Care More Affordable
The President's Health Care Agenda Includes:
Allowing Small Businesses To Form Association Health Plans (AHPs). The President has called on Congress to allow small businesses and civic and community groups to form Association Health Plans (AHPs), which would allow these groups to join together across State lines to purchase health insurance. This would give them the same advantages, administrative efficiencies, and negotiating clout enjoyed by big companies and labor unions.
Passing Medical Liability Reforms. The President has called on Congress to pass medical liability reforms that would help injured patients get quick compensation for economic losses while reducing frivolous lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits and excessive jury awards limit access to health care by driving providers out of many communities. They also increase patients' costs by forcing doctors to practice defensive medicine.
Expanding Health IT. In 2004, the President launched an initiative to make electronic health records available to most Americans within the next 10 years. The Administration is working to expand the use of health IT to increase efficiency, reduce medical errors, and improve quality of care while protecting patients' privacy and personal information.
Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). In December 2003, the President signed legislation establishing HSAs that allow Americans to save tax-free dollars to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses and save for future longer-term costs. HSAs give Americans more control over their health care spending, leading to better treatment at lower costs.
President Bush's Healthier US Initiative
On July 18, 2003, President Bush visited the Lakewest Family YMCA in Dallas, Texas to highlight his HealthierUS initiative designed to help Americans, especially children, live longer, better, and healthier lives. The President's HealthierUS initiative helps Americans take steps to improve personal health and fitness and encourages all Americans to:
Be physically active every day;
Eat a nutritious diet;
Get preventive screenings;
and Make healthy choices.
The President was joined by members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, including football legend Lynn Swann, Chair of the Council; and Olympic softball gold medalist and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dot Richardson, Vice Chair of the Council. The Council promotes the President's message on fitness and health to Americans of all ages and unveiled a new tool for Americans to use to increase personal fitness and become healthier. The new Presidential fitness challenge is easy to start and individuals can track weekly fitness activities at the website www.presidentschallenge.org .
Background on Today's Presidential Action
The four keys for a healthier America:
Be Physically Active Every Day - Many chronic diseases can be prevented with modest exercise, in some cases as simple as walking for half an hour. For example, if just 10% of adults began walking regularly, America could save $5.6 billion in costs related to heart disease.
Eat a Nutritious Diet - Americans should make simple adjustments to their diet and avoid excessive portions. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is a central part of a healthier diet, and good overall nutrition lowers the risk of getting heart disease, stroke, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Get Preventive Screenings - Americans may be surprised to learn how a simple test like a cholesterol screen or a blood pressure check can reveal current health status and identify a need to adjust diet or behavior.
Make Healthy Choices - Avoid tobacco and drugs as well as the abuse and underage use of alcohol and make smart and safe choices in your everyday life.
Steps to a HealthierUS Obesity, diabetes, and asthma are some of the most prevalent and costly chronic health problems facing the nation. Increased exercise and better nutrition are simple measures that can prevent or delay many chronic diseases. The Steps to a HealthierUS program will fund innovative community-based programs that seek to adopt proven measures to reduce the burden of obesity, diabetes, and asthma-related complications, with a particular focus on youth. The President's 2004 budget requests $125 million for Steps to a HealthierUS.
The President's Challenge - www.presidentschallenge.org Over the past year, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has worked to create a new, more widely accessible President's Challenge awards program. The Council has set the goal of attracting an additional 20 million Americans to physical fitness and exercise. Using www.presidentschallenge.org, the new President's Challenge allows individuals to track weekly fitness activities, and receive Presidential fitness awards for achieving defined fitness goals.
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