KOHL MEETS WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA ON HEALTH CARE; DISCUSSES PRIORITIES FOR REFORM
WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss health care reform as part of the Senate's Moderate Democrat Working Group. Senator Kohl emphasized the importance of reigning in the rising costs of health care, while maintaining health care quality and expanding access.
"We all understand that we want to move toward universal coverage, but I don't think we're focusing enough on costs. Insurance premiums are going up and up and up. This is not sustainable," said Senator Kohl. "We need to do a better job of conveying to the American people what we're going to do to reduce costs-not just to contain costs, but reduce costs-and still maintain quality health care, which is totally doable."
Over the past several months, Senator Kohl has consistently pushed for health reform legislation to address the skyrocketing cost of health care, which is breaking the bank for American families, American businesses, and the government. The United States spends $7,290 on health care per person, per year-while the average spent by the 30 most developed countries in the OECD is $2,960 per person, per year. Despite this wide discrepancy in spending, studies show that the U.S. ranks below average on major health indicators, including infant mortality and life expectancy, when compared to these other industrialized countries.
Senator Kohl has urged the inclusion of provisions that will control costs by ensuring that the federal government pays for value of care, not volume, and eliminating duplicative testing and over-treatment. Under Medicare's current reimbursement system, physicians are reimbursed based on the volume of services provided without regard to quality. Payments vary widely throughout the country and are based upon outdated data assumptions.
Kohl has also pointed to the efficiency and quality of care that certain Wisconsin programs and health systems provide as proof that we can maintain and improve health care in America while lowering costs. The success of SeniorCare, Wisconsin's popular senior drug coverage program, shows that negotiating the prices of prescription drugs saves money. In Wisconsin, drug company rebates pay for 40 percent of the program's costs, saving taxpayers nearly $560 per person per year.
Finally, studies have shown that if all Medicare patients received the care provided by in the top 100 hospitals in the country, several of which are found in Wisconsin, annual health spending would be reduced by $5.9 billion. Savings would be realized because improved care would reduce 132,000 patient complications a year and shorten the average patient stay by nearly half a day.
Kohl is also supportive of measures to expand the use of health information technology, which has been shown to save lives by reducing medical errors and save money by promoting efficiency in testing and communication; support the use of generic drugs and get them to the market faster; and encourage Americans to engage in preventive care and healthy lifestyles.
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Click here for a video of Senator Kohl talking about health care reform: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PkXiJVhXSE