Health Leaders Say Millions of Americans Will Benefit from More Accessible Health Coverage, But Reform Bill Leaves Work Remaining to Improve System, Contain Costs

Below is a HLC press statment issued today:

WASHINGTON – An organization comprised of chief executives from all healthcare sectors said important progress was made today in extending health coverage to uninsured Americans, but Congress still has much work to do in addressing the underlying causes affecting the quality and cost-effectiveness of the U.S. healthcare system.

John H. Hammergren, chairman of the Healthcare Leadership Council, said today, “Congress made important strides in making health insurance more affordable for millions of working Americans.”  Mr. Hammergren is chairman, president and chief executive officer of the McKesson Corporation.

But, he added, “The hard work of improving America’s healthcare system is only beginning.  This bill doesn’t sufficiently address key issues that affect long-term excellence and sustainability – challenges such as aligning payment systems with quality and value, expanding use of health information technology and fixing our broken medical liability system.”

“On each of these fronts, America’s non-profit and for-profit healthcare companies are making tremendous strides in demonstrating how quality and cost-efficiency can be simultaneously achieved and they will continue to lead the way, but we still need public policies that help enable this progress,” Mr. Hammergren said.

HLC president Mary R. Grealy said the organization will be extremely active in public outreach and education to help inform uninsured Americans about the new health coverage options available to them.

“We’ve learned from the lessons of the Medicare prescription drug benefit and from our previous efforts on uninsured outreach that you can’t simply throw a new program out there and expect people to immediately understand and utilize it,” she said.  “We intend to work with federal departments and agencies to make sure people have the information they need to take advantage of their new health insurance options.”

Ms. Grealy also said she believes the health reform legislative process is far from complete.

“We need to monitor the impact of this legislation to make sure that, as insurance reforms take effect, provisions requiring people to accept their responsibility to have health insurance are sufficiently strong.  And we need to make certain this measure has a positive, and not an undermining, impact on the healthcare innovation that has been the hallmark of the U.S. system,” she said.

Mr. Hammergren said that HLC will continue to work closely with lawmakers to achieve further health system improvements.

“This health reform process has been a difficult, contentious one, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that both Democrats and Republicans brought innovative ideas to the table.  These ideas deserve further exploration as part of a reform process that is just beginning,” he said.