Medicare :: Focus on covering the uninsured, reducing health costs

Expanding coverage for the uninsured should be the top health care priority for the new Congress over the next five years, identified as “absolutely essential” or “very important” by 88 percent of respondents to the latest Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders survey. Other top priorities are moderating rising health care costs (81 percent), reforming Medicare to ensure long-term solvency (80 percent), and increasing use of information technology to improve quality and safety of patient care (80 percent).

Opinion leaders also say that reducing the proportion of the uninsured under-65 population from 18 percent to 5 percent is an achievable and desirable goal for policy action within the next 10 years.

The survey of leading health care experts with a diverse range of professional and ideological perspectives is the ninth in a series by The Commonwealth Fund, and the first conducted in partnership with the publication Modern Healthcare. Opinion leaders included experts from four broad health care sectors: academia and research organizations; health care delivery; business, insurance, and other health industry; and government and advocacy groups. Elected officials and media representatives were excluded. The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive? on behalf of The Commonwealth Fund and focused on Congressional priorities. The survey was completed online by 289 experts.

“When this many of our nation’s health care experts, who don’t always agree about priorities, name the same few critical issues, we have an excellent starting point for action on the health care agenda for the next few years,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “Covering the uninsured is a key component of a high performance health care system for the United States, and the experts’ opinions reflect this great need.”The survey findings are posted on the Web sites of The Commonwealth Fund and Modern Healthcare, along with commentaries from Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). A data brief from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System with additional analysis of survey findings is also posted on the Fund’s Web site.

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