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Tom Donohue: Let Business Lead on Health-Care Reform

As President Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

While much of the attention throughout the health reform debate has been on the role of government, it is the private sector that is leading the country to adopt innovative solutions to our health-care deficiencies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that private, market-based solutions can improve the quality of health care, decrease the cost of services, and expand access to affordable coverage and care. American businesses have already driven health-care solutions that are tailored to the needs of their employees and bolster transparency, reward innovation, and encourage health and wellness.

Greater transparency enables consumers to understand the price and quality of health services so that they can make informed decisions to improve the value of their care and drive competition in the marketplace. The Hospital Quality Alliance, a public-private partnership sponsored by the chamber, is leading an effort to improve transparency in hospital care. By publishing information on services for participating hospitals, we can reward providers that lower cost and improve quality.

New value-based insurance products are designed to promote the use of services that provide the greatest clinical value, and they help make each health-care dollar go further. If we make necessary treatments less expensive and unnecessary care more expensive, these plans can improve health outcomes and decrease costs. Many private employers are adopting these plans as a way to encourage employees to use high-value, low-cost services.

Private health insurance exchanges offer a new option for employees to take a set amount of money provided by their employers and pick a plan based on their individual needs and priorities. These online insurance marketplaces enable consumers to shop from a variety of health plans through interactive technology.

Employers are also driving down health-care costs through workplace wellness initiatives. Health promotion efforts can lower expenses by preventing and treating chronic diseases and raising workplace productivity.

To highlight private-sector efforts, the Chamber of Commerce this week will hold its first-ever Health Care Summit, Rewarding Innovation and Improving Transparency. Health system representatives, policy experts and business leaders will come together to discuss strategies to strengthen our health-care system. The business community has shown leadership in advancing solutions and will be a critical voice in finding effective health-care reform that protects American jobs and the employers that create them.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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