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Newsletter Article


Commission Corner

As 2007 comes to a close, The Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System continues to inform the debate.

For its final meeting of the year, the Commission gathered in Washington, D.C., to review and discuss reports in the works and begin thinking about new projects. Guest speakers Robert Kolodner, Alice Rivlin, and Gail Wilensky engaged commissioners in thinking about the group's next big undertaking: issues related to the possible design and functions of a national entity to set targets and make recommendations in health care.

Also during the meeting, the Commission unveiled its latest report, A High Performance Health System for the U.S.: An Ambitious Agenda for the Next President, at a release event where a group of high-level stakeholders and reporters had the opportunity to engage in a rich question-and-answer session with the Commission members. An Ambitious Agenda for the Next President constitutes the next phase of the Commission's thinking. It underscores the need for national leadership in transforming the U.S. health system into one that helps everyone, to the extent possible, lead long, healthy, and productive lives. To do so, the Commission recommends simultaneously embracing five key strategies for change: affordable coverage for all, aligned incentives and effective cost control, accountable coordinated care, aiming higher for quality and efficiency, and accountable leadership. Future reports will detail more specific recommendations about how to reach and raise benchmark levels of health system performance.

In October, the Commission published A Roadmap to Health Insurance for All: Principles for Reform, which made the case that affordable coverage for all Americans is essential for a high performance health system associated with more effective and efficient care. It explores the different ways in which policymakers could design universal coverage and how each not only could increase coverage for the uninsured, but also improve quality and efficiency and gain control over spiraling health care costs. The Commission believes the most pragmatic approach to coverage for all is mixed private–public group insurance that builds on the best features of our current system, with shared responsibility for financing from individuals, employers, and government, and that minimizes dislocation for the millions of Americans who currently have good coverage.

Stay tuned later this month for the Commission's publication of "Bending the Curve: Options for Achieving Savings and Improving Value in Health Spending," which estimates the impacts of 15 federal policy options that are intended to moderate future cost growth. This provocative report will illustrate potential ways to reduce national expenditures over the next decade while also improving access, quality, and population health.

For more information, please visit the Commission page on the Fund's Web site.

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