Mapping the Way to a Transformed Health System

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<p>"The potent combination of recent events in the United States has presented the nation's leaders with a historic opportunity to fix our broken health care system," writes Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis in her <a href="/publications/annual-report-essays/2009/jan/you-can-get-there-from-here--mapping-the-way-to-a-transformed-u-s--health-system
">new essay.</a><br><br>The poor performance of the U.S. health system adds to our current economic crisis, writes Davis in <a href="/publications/annual-report-essays/2009/jan/you-can-get-there-from-here--mapping-the-way-to-a-transformed-u-s--health-system
">You Can Get There from Here: Mapping the Way to a Transformed U.S. Health System</a>. As a nation we spend twice as much per person on health care as other major industrialized countries do--saddling businesses with high expenses, burdening taxpayers, and squeezing other public priority needs, from education to the nation's aging infrastructure. Meanwhile, two-thirds of all adults under age 65 report they are uninsured or underinsured, forgo needed care, or struggle to pay medical bills or related debt.<br><br>Davis maps out a way for the nation to transform and revitalize its health care system. She shows how the U.S. can:<ul><li>Provide everyone with affordable health insurance options, by building on our current employer-based system and opening up Medicare to everyone without access to group coverage.</li><li>Change the financial incentives for hospitals, physicians, and other health care organizations so that they become more accountable for patient health outcomes and the prudent use of resources.</li><li>Leverage Medicare's purchasing power to help keep costs down.</li><li>Create a more organized delivery system that taps the expertise of teams of health professionals, from primary care and specialist physicians to nurses and pharmacists.</li><li>Meet and continually raise benchmarks for care, and help providers get the tools they need to reach the highest attainable levels of performance.</li><li>Ensure accountable national leadership, constant innovation, and closer coordination between the public and private sectors by granting greater authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services or an independent board to move quickly on new payment policies that reward value and quality.</li></ul>"Such reforms, taken together, have the potential to achieve near-universal coverage, improve quality, and expand access--all while generating health system savings," Davis says.</p>