Iowa Conference: Promoting Healthier Communities

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Innovation can help the U.S. health care system improve care and engage new community partners — all with an eye towards reducing the rate of health care spending, according to experts at a conference Wednesday at the University of Iowa.

Alice Rivlin, director of the Center for Health Policy at Brookings, and Jim Weinstein, chief executive officer and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, keynoted the conference. It was co-sponsored by the university’s College of Public Health and The Concord Coalition.

Rivlin emphasized how the health system focuses on sickness rather than on keeping communities healthy. She suggested the need for community partners beyond the current system’s providers, along with payment reforms to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Weinstein discussed perverse economic incentives such as fee-for-service payments that reward doctors and hospitals for doing unnecessary procedures. He suggested using many of those dollars instead to provide services that communities need to become or stay healthier.

Other speakers included experts from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Association of State Health Policy, Iowa-based health care systems, Medicaid and the insurance industry.

They all discussed how health care costs are a key challenge to federal, state, local, business and household budgets.

“You can’t find anybody in this country who has health insurance and isn’t being subsidized by the federal government in some way, “ said Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute.

A related conference theme: maximizing the value for each dollar spent by paying for the right things rather than simply what was paid for in the past.

The conference was in part a follow-up to the work of the Iowa Committee for Value in Health Care, a Concord Coalition “Fiscal Stewardship” program that in 2009 identified five principles for value-based reform.

External links:
2015 Population Health Conference (University of Iowa)
Iowa Committee for Value in Health Care

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