National Advocacy Conference
Sebelius: Health care is changing, AMA is leading the way
As President Obama puts the final touches on his State of the Union address, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave a report Tuesday on the state of health care in the United States during a speech to hundreds of the nation’s physicians at the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference.
“Today I can report that the state of American health care is getting stronger—thanks in large part to America’s doctors,” Sebelius said.
Pointing to dozens of new payment and delivery models that are taking shape across the country, Sebelius noted that physician leadership will continue to be key to improving the health care system for physicians and patients alike.
“Thoughtful planning is best,” she said. “That’s why I’m so grateful to the AMA for leading the way on care improvement.”
Sebelius said she knows there’s a lot still to learn about these new models of care, and HHS is looking to physicians to guide national initiatives.
“If your organization is already participating in a new care model,” she said, “let us know how we can support your efforts. And help educate us about what’s working and what isn’t so we can build those insights into our policies. If you’ve been waiting to get involved in a new model, now is the time to take the leap.”
She noted that the health care system is evolving based on the needs of a changing patient population and that there are opportunities for health care groups of all shapes and sizes to better meet those needs.
In addition, Sebelius emphasized that the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula must be eliminated if the health care system is to continue to evolve—a position the AMA continues to underscore.
“We remain committed to an SGR fix that will take America’s doctors out of a permanent state of limbo,” she said. “[T]emporary extensions are not good enough. We need to bring an end to constant uncertainty for doctors and patients.”
She also noted that repealing the SGR is only the first step. She encouraged physicians to continue to be strong leaders in ushering in changes that will benefit patients, physicians and the nation.
As part of its strategic focus, the AMA is working to shape delivery and payment models in an effort to cultivate sustainable physician practices that result in good health outcomes for patients and greater professional satisfaction for physicians. Learn more about this initiative.