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Panel examines new ways to reduce costs, improve outcomes

Oct. 30, 2014, 10:06 AM

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, middle, at Tuesday’s panel discussion with, from left, Randall Krakauer, M.D., of Aetna, Joseph Smith, M.D., of West Health, Vanderbilt’s Melinda Buntin, Ph.D., and the University of Michigan’s Mark Fendrick, M.D. (photo by John Russell)

One way to lower overall health care costs and lessen health disparities among the poor may be to allow public and private health insurers to incentivize patient adherence to evidence-based protocols for chronic diseases and conditions.

In particular, it may make sense to reduce or eliminate members’ out of pocket costs for drugs and services proven to help keep patients with chronic disease out of the hospital.
It’s called value-based insurance design (V-BID), and it’s gaining adherents.

On Tuesday at a roundtable discussion at Vanderbilt, sponsored by the Department of Health Policy, a member of Congress, an insurance executive, a health policy professor and a scientific advisor to a medical research foundation spoke in support of value-based insurance design.

The discussion was moderated by Melinda Buntin, Ph.D., professor and chair of Health Policy.

“We’re getting more and more folks in Washington looking at this concept and showing that there really is merit for it,” said U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who’s sponsoring a bill to establish a demonstration program of V-BID for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries (H.R. 5183).

“The clear focus of all public policy discussion of health care is how much we’re spending. We have to change the conversation from how much we spend to how well we spend it,” said Mark Fendrick, M.D., an internist and professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

When it comes to spending on health care, “We’re not doing a very good job — immunizing our kids, getting cancer screenings, getting people to comply with evidence-based recommendations regarding treatment of chronic diseases,” Fendrick said.

The roundtable was the first in a series, Research into Policy and Practice, sponsored by the Department of Health Policy.

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