News Release: Faculty Experts, Research

Jun. 9,  2010

Health Reform Lays Foundation for Preventing Disease, Lowering Costs

News Article ImageKenneth Thorpe, PhD

National health reform provides a major opportunity to achieve several key goals simultaneously, including improving disease prevention, reforming health care delivery, bending the cost curve, and achieving better value for spending, according to Emory University public health researchers.

In a commentary published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Health Affairs, Emory health policy experts Kenneth Thorpe, PhD, and Lydia Ogden, PhD, say that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 could produce significant gains in many areas of health reform in a relatively short time.

"The health care reform legislation holds the potential for transformation of the delivery system into one focused less on volume of services and more on value and patient outcomes," says Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff professor and chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health. "To best capitalize on the foundation that reform lays, best practices in finance and payment, care delivery transformation, and prevention must be scaled and implemented across the country in short order, guided by an action plan from the department of Health and Human Services."

Chronic illness accounts for an estimated 84 percent of all U.S. health care spending. Efforts to prevent chronic disease and to keep chronically ill patients healthier - by better managing their existing illnesses and preventing additional ones - are imperative to increase the value of our health spending and realize better individual and population health, Thorpe and Ogden note.

"There are real cost savings to be gained," says Ogden, adjunct faculty member in the Department of Health Policy and Management. "For example, Medicare could save as much as $188 billion in just six years by preventing far too many avoidable hospital readmissions that occur within 30 days of seniors being discharged. The health care overhaul legislation offers both financial incentives to reward quality care and penalties to deter poor care. These and other changes will accelerate better service and better value."

The commentary, "The Foundation that National Health Reform Lays for Improved Payment, Care Coordination, and Prevention," is published in the June 2010 edition of Health Affairs, which explores implementation issues associated with health reform.

Full text of the article is available at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/29/6/1183

The research was supported by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation for the Center for Entitlement Reform.

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