Karen Davis on Forging Health Reform Consensus

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Most Americans remain perplexed by the different versions of health reform presented in legislation from the House of Representatives and the Senate. And headlines suggest bipartisan and even Democratic party agreement is elusive. In a <a href="/blog/2009/forging-health-reform-consensus">new blog post</a>, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis points out that there is significant consensus on the framework for reform across all the bills moving through Congress. It includes: affordable health insurance coverage for all; increased choices; incentives for accountability; greater transparency; shared responsibility; redirected resources; and opportunities for learning and acting as reform is implemented. <br /><br />Davis highlights little-celebrated points of agreement in the proposals, such as creation of the health insurance exchange that will set rules for participating plans, including making them available to all on the same terms regardless of health status. Likewise, all of the bills seek to transform the health system from one that rewards doing more to one that rewards getting better health outcomes for patients. And each bill includes provisions that would shine more light on economic transactions, such as the profit margins and administrative expenses of insurance companies, the content of insurance policies purchased by consumers, and the financial relationships between physicians and medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. <br /><br />"Focusing on areas of consensus rather than our differences or most preferred solution should help make reform this year a reality," Davis says. "The framework for health care transformation has been laid out—our final task is to work through the remaining issues without derailing our efforts and pass this legislation."