Mental health is easily the most frustrating corner of a healthcare sector rife with shortcomings and unmet needs. What’s maddening in this case is that government funding has declined even as the potential for improving mental health has increased. Worse, perhaps, is how a backward mental health system routinely inflicts harm on those people who come in contact with it.
Back in the spring of 2013, when plans for the first enrollment period for ACA were underway, funders were skittish about the public knowing of their support for enrollment efforts, fearing negative backlash from conservative critics. Now, with the White House’s recent announcement that 11.4 million Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare, funders are more openly acknowledging their support for enrollment efforts.
The Obama administration has broken new ground in bringing together the power of philanthropy and government. Near the center of that effort is Michael Smith, the White House aide in charge of My Brother’s Keeper.
We unravel the opaque money trail behind the unending attack on the Affordable Care Act, including the latest legal challenge now before the Supreme Court. At its center is a who’s who of conservative funders.
When you are one, you have only just learned to speak. You move about clumsily and knock things down a lot. You don’t yet know what is possible, but you are burgeoning with life.
More than 500 people crowded into the meeting room of Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Benefit St in Providence for the Worker & Community Speakout for Good Jobs and Quality Care on January 17. At issue was the contract negotiation between Lifespan/Rhode Island Hospital and General Teamsters Local 251 representing some 2,500 hospital employees.
According to Local 251, “As a non-profit entity, Lifespan and RI Hospital are supposed to put the healthcare needs of the community first. Unfortunately, management has taken cost cutting measures, causing shortages in equipment and staff that undermine patient care.”
From the Whitehouse Press office:
New Obama Administration Goals for Medicare Mirror Sen. Whitehouse Recommendations
Senator Whitehouse has Been Urging Administration for Years to Set Clear Goals to Improve Care and Reduce Costs
Goals Resemble the Whitehouse-Steinberg Compact in Rhode Island
Washington, DC – Today the Obama Administration announced that it is setting clear goals and a specific timeline for reforming the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed when treating Medicare patients. The goals announced today come after U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been urging the Administration for years to set clear targets for health care delivery system reforms, arguing as early as 2011 that, “we can and must have a clear challenge to strive toward.”
In 2013 Whitehouse co-authored an opinion piece urging President Obama to set specific goals for reforming payment systems, noting that “at least 75 percent of Medicare payments should be assessed in some way other than fee-for-service” by 2020. Whitehouse also released a report in 2012 chronicling the Administration’s progress in implementing the delivery system reform provisions within the Affordable Care Act, and identifying payment reform as one of five key areas for reform.
“As we continue working to improve the delivery of care and lower costs in our health care system, it’s vital that we set clear, accountable goals,” Whitehouse said today. “Vague calls to ‘bend the cost curve’ will never galvanize our nation’s health care providers and insurers in the same way that specific goals with a number and date will. Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration reinforces the reforms already taking place under the Affordable Care Act and could accelerate the shift to a system that works better for everyone.”
More specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018. HHS also set a goal of tying 85 percent of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90 percent by 2018. Whitehouse was briefed by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in advance of today’s announcement.
Since 2011, Senator Whitehouse has been calling on the Administration to set a specific cost-savings target to drive health care delivery system reform efforts, and has identified payment reforms as one of the key areas in any such effort. More recently, he and Rhode Island Foundation President Neil Steinberg brought together a coalition of Rhode Island health care leaders to develop recommendations on how the state can improve care and lower costs. Among the recommendations they agreed to was to establish specific payment reform goals this year.
Senator Whitehouse has long been a leading voice for health care delivery system reforms. He founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as the state’s Attorney General, helped secure new investments in Health Information Technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was a strong advocate for the inclusion of delivery system reforms in the Affordable Care Act.