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Benefits seen from price, quality mandate


CHICAGO—The executive order signed earlier this year requiring more price and quality data from health care providers for government-sponsored health plans should lead to improvements in the health care purchasing process as early as next year, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.

In addition to government-sponsored plans, health care plans sponsored by large employers could also benefit from the executive order signed in August by President George Bush, said HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt.

The federal government is "reaching out" to 150 of the country's largest employers to encourage them to adopt a similar approach to quality requirements, Mr. Leavitt said Thursday at an educational program sponsored the Midwest Business Group on Health in Chicago.

"We would like (them) to do it by creating executive orders of their own," Mr. Leavitt said.

The federal program will focus on "four cornerstones" that the government says need to be built on to create a "value-based health care system." They are: connecting health information systems, measuring and publishing health care quality information, measuring and publishing prices, and creating incentives for high-quality care.

If the group of private employers focuses on similar goals, in 2008 requests for proposals for health care plans serving up to 60% of the health care market will all be pressing providers for the same information, Mr. Leavitt said.