Five Health Leaders Respond to Baucus Bill

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media , September 17, 2009

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) released the highly anticipated Senate Finance Committee bill on Wednesday, which has reignited the healthcare reform debate. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan would cost $856 billion over 10 years. This amount would be paid for mostly through "increased focus on quality, efficiency, prevention, and adjustments in federal health program payments, without adding to the federal deficit," according to Baucus in a statement.

What do health leaders think of the bill? Here are comments from five leaders:

Chris Van Gorder, FACHE
Scripps Health

"From my perspective and the perspective of most healthcare providers, the current system is broken. Without a doubt, it is too fragmented, costly, and there are too many of our citizens who are uninsured.

"I and my organization clearly support the concept of universal coverage. Senator Baucus' bill clearly moves us in that direction and it does so with individual mandates and without a government controlled option—which gives us great concern.

"Senator Baucus builds on the current system and starts to correct some components of the system, which are clearly broken but does so in a reasonable manner. As always, the details will be important and we are still analyzing the bill—but from our initial read, this bill moves us in the right direction and in a reasonable manner."

A. Mark Fendrick, MD
University of Michigan's Center for Value-Based Insurance Design

"In addition to providing affordable coverage to 29 million uninsured Americans, several provisions in the Senate Finance Bill aim to produce meaningful improvements in both the quality of care provided and efficiency of the healthcare system.

"Investments in prevention and wellness programs, health information technology, patient-centered care systems, and research into what medical services work, will hopefully shift the dialogue from how much we spend on healthcare, to how much health we receive for the money spent."

Bob Coli, MD
Founder, chairman, and CEO
Diagnostic Information System Company

"Unfortunately, it is another classic ‘government control solution,' which is exactly the opposite of the consumer-centered, value-driven ‘private market solution' that is needed. Some of the most convincing proof of this opinion are the sections on healthcare cooperatives, prescription drug coverage, and the proposed revenue provisions."

J. James Rohack, MD
American Medical Association

"The AMA applauds Chairman Baucus and his colleagues for their hard work and important contribution toward our mutual objective of comprehensive health system reform. Expanding coverage through tax credits, insurance market reforms that protect patients if they get sick or lose their job, and offering more affordable choices through new health insurance exchanges will significantly improve our healthcare system.

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