Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he would focus on cost, quality and access problems inherent in the U.S. healthcare system, while crafting a physician payment formula that puts a premium on prevention and wellness. I couldnt feel more strongly that the SGR system just isnt working right, Daschle told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during an informal confirmation hearing for his post as HHS secretary.
Lawmakers have annually grappled with the complicated sustainable growth-rate payment formula, and will do so again this year. Daschle called the issue politically charged. We need to come up with a better system.
While the hearing, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), was largely ceremonialthe Senate Finance Committee holds the keys to confirmationit could hardly be more topical. President-elect Barack Obama has made healthcare reform a top priority of his administration, and wants Daschle in charge of leading it.
The native South Dakotan also said that he would make rural health and the Indian Health Service top priorities if confirmed as secretary. In addition, Daschle also said he would push for incentives to help bolster the healthcare workforce, especially in the primary-care and nursing fields, which have seen a steep decline in practitioners over the years.
Id like to see the incentivization of a wellness system, all the way through from providers to institutions to clinics, Daschle said.