As members of Congress consider and debate health reform proposals, Minnesota's physicians, hospitals and health systems are asking them to keep in mind Minnesota's unique position and experience in the country's health care landscape. In particular, we want Congress to recognize that, compared to national averages, Minnesota already provides high-quality, low-cost health care. We hope that new reforms will reward the kind of accountability and innovation that our providers exemplify.
As a champion for our cause, Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently introduced legislation, which she described in her June 17 commentary, "A coordinated and integrated system can save billions of dollars each year." This proposal is aimed at changing the way Medicare pays physicians across the country by creating incentives for providing the right care for patients, not just more care. Klobuchar seeks to shift our health care system from one that pays for quantity of services a doctor or hospital provides to one that pays for the quality of services a patient receives. Paying for value -- high quality at a low cost -- should be the goal, and this is where Minnesota's providers believe Congress should focus. The introduction of her legislation in the Senate to create a "value index" as part of the formula to determine Medicare's physician fee schedule is a step in the right direction. Year after year, research shows that the cost to Medicare for providing care to Minnesota residents falls well below national averages, while the indicators of the quality of care we provide consistently exceed those of our colleagues around the country. In short, we provide better care for less money. Klobuchar's legislation aims to reverse the pattern whereby some states, like Minnesota, are not recognized for their hard work to keep costs down and quality up. Over time, the approach Klobuchar proposes will encourage high-cost areas to deliver care more efficiently yet challenge Minnesota's health care delivery system to keep pace. It is a challenge we welcome and look forward to meeting. Minnesota's health care delivery system has a long history of providing high-quality, cost-effective results. We urge Minnesotans to support congressional policies that build on and reward health care efficiencies, like Klobuchar's, and oppose those that do not. We will continue to advocate that Congress and the president create an equitable, sustainable, value-based payment system for any publicly supported health care program, including Medicare.
LAWRENCE MASSA, ST. PAUL; PRESIDENT AND CEO, MINNEAPOLIS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, AND Robert K. Meiches, Minneapolis; CEO, Minnesota Medical Association