The Health Care Debate: Getting Better Care at Lower Costs

Mark B. McClellan
Mark B. McClellan Former Brookings Expert, Director, Margolis Center for Health Policy - Duke University

August 14, 2009

Mark McClellan discusses with Bloomberg TV’s Political Capital host Al Hunt cost-saving measures around the country that deliver better health care at lower costs, and the importance of bipartisanship in implementing sustainable reform.

AL HUNT, host:
Our guest this week and a new Bloomberg contributor on health care is Mark McClellan, the former director of Medicare in the George W. Bush administration. Dr. McClellan, thank you for being with us today and welcome to Bloomberg.

Great to be here. Very important time to talk about health care.

It sure is, Mark. You wrote a fascinating piece, co-authored a fascinating piece, in The New York Times this week talking about health care systems around the country that work — where quality is still good and cost is less. Is there anything in the current bills before Congress that would encourage or replicate those practices?

Al, there are some steps that would encourage these practices, but not nearly enough. The point of our article was that around the country, in communities small and large, urban and rural, there are health care systems that are working, that are delivering very good care at much lower costs. Unfortunately, our financing system, a lot of the regulations today, don’t make it easy for these kinds of approaches to health care to work.

What two or three things would you like to see that you learned from that experience put in any bill that emerges through Congress?

Number one, I’d like to see much more emphasis on enabling doctors and patients to save money and for the doctors to get more net revenues when they deliver better care at a lower cost. Right now, if you take steps, like have a nurse practitioner help a patient with diabetes, get educated about their medications, comply with their medicines, that costs money. Medicare doesn’t necessarily reimburse for it, private plans don’t necessarily reimburse for it, even though it saves money overall.

Watch the entire interview »