April 21, 2000

Conference set to examine Medicare’s future

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Conference set to examine Medicare's future

Some of the brightest minds in health care will gather in Nashville next month to probe the future of the nation's Medicare program.

Sponsored by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, "Medicare Futures: A Conference to Refine the National Debate on Medicare," will be held from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 1 at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza. Attendance is by invitation only.

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, will host the conference, which offers attendees the opportunity to gain insight into — as well as challenge — the perspectives of national leaders in federal health care policy.

"We hope the conference can help refine the national debate on Medicare reform," Jacobson said. "And we hope this diverse group of thinkers can find common perspectives to analyze proposals for change and evaluate their impact on the cost and quality of care in Medicare."

The need for Medicare reform is great. Cuts in the federal health care program due to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 continue to leave VUMC and the rest of the nation's teaching hospitals in a financial stranglehold. For VUMC alone, it's projected that the total negative financial impact of the BBA over the course of the next four years will exceed $45 million. Medicare reimbursement to hospitals has been set so low by the BBA that many of the best hospitals in the country and in Tennessee are failing financially.

The Vanderbilt conference on Medicare will be broken down into three sessions featuring numerous panels. Among the questions panels will address are: What are the underlying assumptions about the solvency of the Medicare program and are the data sound? What are the most significant issues in Medicare today? How can quality of care be improved? What reform approaches are likely to generate a high level of agreement? Can reform strategies encourage better quality in the practice of medicine and can they promote greater efficiency?

The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. John Eisenberg, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Eisenberg will also give a talk at VUMC on May 1 at noon in 208 Light Hall. His presentation, "Doing What is Right for Patient Safety," will examine the implications of the recent Institute of Medicine Report on medical erros.

Other panelists at the Medicare Futures conference will include:

• Stuart Altman, Ph.D., Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy, Florence Heller School, Brandeis University;

• Dr. David Chin, principal, PriceWaterhouseCoopers;

• Richard Cowart, chair of the health law department, Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell;

• Richard D'Amaro, chairman and CEO, Greyston Net.com;

• John Goodman, Ph.D., president, National Center for Policy Analysis;

• Michael S. Hamilton, national director, health care advisory services, Ernst & Young LLP;

• Regina Herzlinger, D.B.A., Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University Graduate School of Business;

• Chris Jennings, deputy assistant to the President for Health Policy Development;

• Richard Jones, president of government programs, United Healthcare;

• Larry Lewin, founder, the Lewin Group;

• Kevin Outterson, health law department, Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell;

• John Rother, director of legislation and public Policy, AARP;

• Deborah Steelman, Steelman and Associates;

• Dr. John E. Wennberg, director, Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School;

• Gail Wilensky, Ph.D., John M. Olin Senior Fellow, Project Hope and chair, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.