The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today held the second in a series of hearings on how to reduce health care costs, which focused on preventing unnecessary spending and improving value.
 
Steven Safyer, M.D., president and CEO of Montefiore Health System in Bronx, NY, described how Montefiore has improved quality and lowered costs through valued-based payment models and programs to prevent and lower costs for patients with chronic conditions. For example, the health system’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organization generated $73 million in savings over five years while increasing quality to the 95th percentile. He also urged the committee to improve information sharing by aligning 42 CFR Part 2 regulations with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards so that clinicians can better care for patients with substance use disorder, who also are high cost.
 
“While we’ve learned a lot over the past 20-plus years taking risk, stability is the key to success,” Safyer said. “The government needs stability in its spending and providers need stability in reimbursement. As a provider that runs on low margins because of our governmental payer mix, we depend on the programs that account for caring for low-income patients, like disproportionate share funding, like 340B, and we depend on graduate medical education to fund our training programs, which is our pipeline to the future.”
 
Among other strategies, Jeff Balser, M.D., president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, described how Vanderbilt’s medical home model for children with complex medical conditions reduced inpatient hospital days and emergency room visits for those patients by 89% and 63%, respectively, over two years, noting that a similar program for adults has shown comparable benefits. Brent James, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, also testified.
 
In a statement submitted to the committee, AHA encouraged Congress to “pursue actions that will help reduce the cost of coverage without putting access to care at risk,” including addressing the high costs of prescription drugs, regulatory and administrative burden, and chronic disease, and promoting enrollment in comprehensive health coverage.
 
Also today, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on state efforts to improve health care cost transparency for consumers.