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Klobuchar on Senate Health Care Bill

Friday, November 20th, 2009 at 7:04 am

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s proposal to reform Medicare and reward the value of care, instead of the volume of services, was included in the merged Senate health care bill unveiled yesterday.  This change represents a historic transformation of the current Medicare payment system and was offered in the Finance Committee by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) during the Committee’s consideration of the bill.  With Klobuchar’s proposal, Medicare will begin to incentivize higher-quality, more efficient care for patients and lower health care costs.

“I’m encouraged to see that the Senate bill reduces the federal deficit by $127 billion and that it includes my value index legislation to control costs and get more from our health care dollars,” said Klobuchar. “I will continue to work to improve the bill so that states like Minnesota, which provide greater access to high quality, efficient care, are rewarded for their efforts.”

Dr. Denis Cortese, President and CEO, Mayo Clinic said, “Mayo Clinic has consistently supported payment reforms in Medicare to reward value rather than volume. We are enthused that the Senate bill unveiled yesterday includes a value payment modifier for Medicare physician payments, and want to express our thanks to Senators Klobuchar and Cantwell for their work. We are confident that this type of payment reform is a key to better quality for patients as well as lowering the cost of healthcare.”

Klobuchar’s proposal establishes a Medicare “value index” method for determining payment to physicians. The significant change to the Medicare payment system will be administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The Secretary will work with to establish uniform definitions for quality that will become the basis for the index.  This proposal is budget neutral and takes into account justifiable differences in Medicare spending.  It is not contingent on a study, or subject to the disapproval by Congress, as other proposals have provided.

Klobuchar has been a leader in the effort to incorporate a “value index,” in Medicare cost reforms. Currently, Medicare does not take into account the value of care provided by physicians when determining their payments for providers. Value based payments with help reduce regional differences in Medicare spending across the nation and help move to a coordinated, integrated delivery system.  Studies have shown that more integrated care could save taxpayers an additional $100 billion a year.

Klobuchar also worked to reduce the proposed fee on medical device manufacturers in the bill. The Senate Finance Committee bill first set the medical device fee at $38 billion. Senator Klobuchar worked with Senate leadership to reduce the fee on medical device manufacturers by $18 billion in the merged Senate bill.

Klobuchar pledged to continue to advocate for a cost efficient health care bill as it approaches the Senate Floor.

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