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Leavitt sees use for reform law


By Rich Daly
Posted: February 28, 2012 - 3:00 pm ET
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A senior healthcare adviser to Mitt Romney said a Republican HHS secretary could use the 2010 federal healthcare law to improve the nation's healthcare.

Mike Leavitt, the former secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush and current Romney adviser, said the federal government's historic $15 trillion debt will drive “hard” changes in healthcare system to reduce its costs. Those changes, including moving across healthcare from a fee-for-service model to outcomes based payment, may be facilitated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Romney has repeatedly urged repeal and replacement of the law.

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The law “gives the secretary authority to do certain things that are clearly aimed at trying to move us in this direction,” he said in a brief interview after addressing a Washington gathering of the Cancer Action Network. “A lot of it will depend on how aggressively the secretary chooses to use the authorities in the law to move us in that direction.”

Leavitt said he doubted HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will use her new authorities under the law to implement the changes that are needed to control the ever-higher national debt.

Government-led changes he advocates included initiatives similar to Medicare's Part D prescription drug program, in which the federal government helps to “organize an efficient market,” and the establishment of health insurance exchanges.

“Why will they happen? It's a logical solution to a problem we've struggled with for a long time for individuals and small groups,” Leavitt said.


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