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Berwick Outlines The Bright Side Of Health Reform For Finance Committee

Don Berwick, administrator of CMS, faces the Senate Finance Committee today

Donald Berwick, the new administrator of the Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, could face a hostile crowd today as he offers testimony on national health reform to the Senate Finance Committee, a group that has vowed to grill him with tough questions, according to Politico.

Dr. Berwick will likely stay on message, according to a pre-released copy of his remarks, published in The Hill today. The focus of his presentation will likely be the great benefits of the 8-month-old reform law, called the Affordable Care Act. Here are some examples he cites:

Helping Medicare beneficiaries maintain access to life-saving medicines:

As a result of new provisions in the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare are receiving immediate relief from the cost of their prescription medications. To date, 1.8 million seniors and people with disabilities who have incurred high prescription drug costs have received immediate help through a tax-free $250 rebate check to help reimburse them for out-of-pocket costs in the Part D prescription drug coverage gap known as the ―donut hole.‖ In addition, every year, people with Medicare Part D will pay less for their prescription drug costs in the coverage gap. Beginning in 2011, eligible Medicare beneficiaries will get a 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs in the coverage gap. By 2020, we will have closed the donut hole.

Making Medicare strong:

The Affordable Care Act contains many cost-saving provisions that will make the Medicare program more accountable and efficient, Continue reading

One Minute On Payment Reform With Mass. Senate President Therese Murray

Determined but not particularly optimistic. That was how state Senate President Therese Murray sounded when CommonHealth spoke with her today about the current prospects for what many believe is the necessary next step in health care: payment reform that would fundamentally change how the system works, aiming to stop the endless rise of costs. She said in part:

“I would like to see the entire legislature and the administration pass something within the next calendar year, but we’ll keep working at it until we get something done.”

Also:

“We have to be careful we don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg, which is the best health care system in the world right here — of course, I think that — but we also have to get costs down so people can afford health care.”