Recapping the National Affordability Summit – September 27, 2017

On September 27, the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) brought together 200 stakeholders from across the country who hold various roles within the healthcare industry at the National Affordability Summit to address the central issue in the U.S. healthcare crisis: the rising cost of healthcare.

Over the coming weeks, NRHI will be sharing content and perspective pieces from the summit, and invites you to share your ideas for action. In the meantime, key themes that emerged from the vibrant and frank discussion include:

  • We Can’t Afford to NOT Act – At $3-trillion a year, healthcare spending is “the biggest single thing driving the federal deficit and state deficits.” Harold Miller, President and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, used data to bring the focus to where the money is actually going so that we can have the right conversation. Mr. Miller highlighted hospitals and health insurance companies as driving these cost increases. Hear Mr. Miller call on stakeholders to identify “avoidable spending” and give specific examples:


  • Better Care at Lower Costs is Possible – Dr. Arnold Milstein, Director of the Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University, referenced the bi-partisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) as a rare “political gift” that provides an unprecedented catalytic opportunity to reform the way care and services are paid for. By clearly identifying performance measures, standards, and incentives, the MACRA Quality Payment Program could make long-elusive payment reform and higher value care a reality. Dr. Milstein called upon Summit participants to be the “change agents” driving this work:


  • It’s Time to Disrupt and Harness the Patient Voice – More and more stakeholders are embracing the idea that affordable care means population health-focused, value-based care. A panel of experts offered ideas for gaining the societal and industry buy-in it will take to make the necessary changes to the healthcare system. Dr. Grace Terrell, CEO of Envision Genomics and the former CEO of Cornerstone, a multi-specialty practice in North Carolina that restructured their clinical services to a population health, value-based model from 2008 to 2010 that cut patient costs by up to 20%. Patients were thrilled, but employers and hospitals fought the changes vehemently. Dr. Terrell challenged Summit participants to be constructively “disruptive” in regional markets. Hear Dr. Terrell’s full call to action:

  • Executive Director of Families USA, Frederick Isasi, is a champion of the power of the patient voice to inform and drive change. Mr. Asasi thinks if we can educate patients about the harm that fee-for-service economics is doing to them—and the American economy—we can enlist their help in demanding and achieving affordable care:


  • The Devil is in the Details (aka Data) – A panel of healthcare data experts shared their vision for community-wide health data sharing that breaks down silos and allows for true transformation of care across a region. Panelist Joshua Rosenthal, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Rowdmap, offered that the most meaningful thing people can do is stop waiting for the easy answers, “work on unsexy things,” and dig into readily accessible Medicare and Medicaid data. The resounding recommendation from the group was for stakeholders to start with what they have and move their organizations forward one step at a time. Niall Brennan, President of the Health Cost Institute, reminded the audience that change doesn’t happen overnight and that this work will take time but will absolutely be worthwhile:


To access content from the Summit and join the conversation, visit NRHI’s Getting to Affordability online community.


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