Donald Berwick, M.D., did not mince words during his keynote address at the Healthcare Financial Management Association annual meeting taking place in Orlando June 17-19: “The public is quite confused and scared” about the direction of the health care industry, said the former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator.
Now running for governor in Massachusetts, Berwick described the environment in Washington, D.C. as both toxic and counterproductive. He served as the leader of CMS during the early days of the Obama administration and is widely credited as being a leading architect of many of the reform elements eventually passed under the Affordable Care Act.
Berwick said the health reform effort is a step in the right direction-despite the political volatility surrounding it. “The hospital comes under new incentive models,” he noted, such as accountable care, patient-centered medical home, and value-based payment models. Such a shift is crucial, he contended, because poorly coordinated, fragmented care under fee-for-service has resulted in runaway costs that drain vital resources from other public spending programs and the economy overall. “What health care takes is what labor, schools and bridges don’t get.”