White House launches new effort to improve quality of health care, reduce cost; TMC CEO in attendance

Photo credit: TMC President and CEO Judy Rich


President Barack Obama on Wednesday commemorated the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act by launching a new effort to continue moving health care toward a system that is increasingly tied to quality of care, rather than quantity of care.

A major facet of the health care law was about improving access to care – with 16 million more Americans on health care rolls to show for it, President Obama said to a room of top health care leaders, including Tucson Medical Center President and CEO Judy Rich.

But the law’s other facet aims to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier patients – and there is more to do on that front, the president said.

The new effort, the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, brings public and private stakeholders together to find ways of reducing costs by achieving better outcomes, reducing hospital readmissions, streamlining regulatory burdens and eliminating unnecessary treatments and tests. The new effort builds on the administration’s announcement in January of a goal of tying 30 percent of Medicare payments to quality and value by 2016, with a full half by 2018.

“We don’t want incentives to be skewed so providers feel obliged to do more tests,” the president said.”We want them to do the right tests. We want them to invest money on the front end to prevent disease – not just on the back end to treat disease. These changes are encouraging doctors and hospitals to focus on getting better outcomes for their patients.”


Photo credit: TMC President and CEO Judy Rich

According to the White House, ongoing efforts to reform health care delivery have helped avoid an estimated 150,000 readmissions between 2012 and 2013, prevented 50,000 patient deaths, and saved approximately $12 billion in health care costs between 2010 and 2013. “The bottom line is this is for the American people: the Affordable Care Act is saving money for families and for businesses. This law is also saving lives,” the president continued.

TMC was invited to the kickoff in recognition of the commitment it already has shown in improving care and costs. As the only hospital member of the accountable care organization, Arizona Connected Care, TMC has been instrumental in providing staff and financial support to sustain the effort from its inception.

“At TMC, our single-minded focus is on delivering high-quality patient care and building the health of the community,” said Rich.

As a result, we’ve been unequivocal supporters of the law’s aim to improve access to health care and are well along the path of shifting from a volume-based reimbursement model to a value-based model. It isn’t easy work, but it is the most important work we can do if we collectively are to improve the future of health care delivery.”

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