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House Health Care Innovation Caucus: A True Value-Based Proposition

April 9, 2018

After spending a few years in – or around – U.S. Congress, you realize that there is a caucus for everything. There’s one for Blue Dog Democrats, one for Tea Partiers, and even one for Jazz. But the latest caucus that has set Washington abuzz is centered around an issue near and dear to my heart — innovation in health care.

Only recently announced, the Health Care Innovation Caucus is already making big promises. On the agenda are issues like improving quality of care while reducing costs, and finding ways to encourage innovation and new ideas. The bipartisan caucus is led by Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Ami Bera (D-CA), all of whom I knew in Congress as capable and conscientious legislators.

The center of the innovation group’s focus will be on the increasing importance of quality and value of care. For too long, the system has rewarded volume.

However, doctors, hospitals, patients, insurers, and now legislators have come around to the idea of value-based care. Increasingly, positive treatment outcomes are being rewarded and the overall value of treatment, both monetary and health, is being evaluated.

Finding ways to continue to incorporate this value-based method into the complex web of payment systems is at the heart of what this caucus wants to do. They acknowledge the paradox that America has the best health care treatment in the world but also the highest cost. This is where innovative solutions come in, rewarding value while also reducing costs – and also improving system efficiency and the overall patient experience.

A further point of the caucus’ emphasis is the overall modernization of health care in the United States. Antiquated processes, entrenched interests and viewpoints, and other operational and cultural barriers make innovation difficult, while old payment systems make rapid and wholesale change nearly impossible. If health care in this country is going to function at the highest possible level, it must be brought fully into the digital age – a prime insight of the Health Care Innovation Caucus.

The formation of groups like this one is a positive step. My former colleagues are well-suited to drive innovation and bring their colleagues along with them. In these times, it is always heartening to see a truly bipartisan effort. Whether they can drive real change and innovation remains to be seen, but they’re focusing on the right issues and committed to working together. Based on what I saw in my time on Capitol Hill with them, they might actually be able to pull some of it off.