Comprehensive reform of our nation’s healthcare system has eluded Capitol Hill and Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt. Americans are now spending more on healthcare than any other nation in the world, but our country ranks last among 19 industrialized nations in preventable deaths.
Our system failing to improve health outcomes for millions of Americans, undermining our competitiveness in the international marketplace, straining state government budgets, and undercutting wage growth for American workers. Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in the United States have been rising four times faster on average than workers’ earnings since 2000, and health insurance costs are on track to overtake profits in this decade.
Initiatives in diverse sectors of the economy have demonstrated the potential for innovations in health care delivery to reduce cost growth, improve quality, and expand access to care—but they also demonstrate state, local, and private entities’ limits in resolving health care cost and quality issues outside the context of federal reform.
There is mounting evidence that a new consensus is emerging across diverse sectors of American society about key elements of a modernized health care system that can meet the needs of 21st century Americans. These elements include investments in the prevention and management of chronic disease, emphasis on primary care, patient-centered coordination of care, design of effective provider and patient incentives, building of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure, and access of all Americans to affordable, quality care.
The Summit Conversations on American Health Care for the 21st Century brings together America’s leaders from business, labor, government, health care, and other sectors to explore the extent and limits of their consensus on these issues.