In remarks to members of the American Hospital Association in Washington on Monday, CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick called for innovation and additional effort from providers to reduce healthcare costs nationwide.
Berwick: 'I'm not for cutting; I'm for changing'
"With all you have given to this progress in our national health policy and delivery context, I don't mean to seem at all ungrateful," Berwick told the providers gathered at the AHA's 42nd annual membership meeeting. "But I'm going to tell you that we need more. We need to execute. We need to execute on the promise, and it's crucial that we stay together in this next phase.
Berwick said providers should be "enormously proud" of the work they have done in fighting disease but also noted that the U.S. "is about 30th in the world" in terms of life expectancy.
"We continue to have strong evidence of inadvertent injuries to patients—nearly one in three hospital patients has an injury from care, if you believe research last week from the journal Health Affairs," he said. "And we continue to see rising rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma."
In addition, without explicitly citing last week's proposed entitlement reforms outlined in the House Republicans' fiscal year 2012 budget, Berwick alluded to those suggestions by telling providers that the country must choose which strategy it will employ to bring healthcare costs down.
"The stakes are really high," he said. "Our country is facing a choice. You can see it absolutely clearly. The choice is between two strategies to control healthcare costs: cut or change. We can either cut care, or we change the way health does its work," he said, adding, "I'm not for cutting. I'm for changing."
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