Health information technology reform factored significantly in a proposal released today by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to cover 35 million of the nation's uninsured.
The comprehensive five-point plan cited electronic prescribing as a tool to improve healthcare quality, reduce errors and empower consumers. The Blues specifically recommended that e-prescribing should be mandated under Medicare and that its adoption should be linked to provider reimbursement.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has shown interest in the e-prescribing mandate, said Scott Serota, president and chief executive officer of the Blues, at a news conference today to release the plan.
There should be initiatives to help providers adopt health IT and improve consumers' access to their health records, the proposal stated. Blues plans have a goal to offer a personal health record to their members by the end of 2008.
The proposal made additional recommendations to establish tax credit optionsin particular for workers in small businesses, and create an independent institute to support research on the effectiveness of procedures, drugs and devices. It also included measures to enroll more low-income people, such as extending public coverage, and requiring states to have high risk pools to assure access.
Medicare would be used as a tool to cover more people, and the Blues recommended incorporating pay-for-quality incentives in the program, as well as promoting management of chronic illness through Medicare Advantage.
Serota said that many of these initiatives are already being carried out by individual Blues plans, which have achieved some cost savings, but added that the Blues is still working on a national estimate of the overall cost savings of implementing the plan.