AcademyHealth's National Health Policy Conference (NHPC) convenes roughly 700 congressional leaders, health care providers, administration and state officials, and other policy professionals to discuss critical health care issues and share insight on what's in store for the year ahead.
The 2014 conference kicked off this morning with the opening "Plenary on the Administration's Health Policy Priorities" with Jeanne Lambrew from the White House Office of Health Reform. The session marked an anniversary of sorts for Dr. Lambrew, who was a plenary speaker at the NHPC five years ago.
Dr. Lambrew took the opportunity to reflect on the past five years as well as express her hopes for the upcoming year. Among her highlights was the growth in office-based physicians using some type of electronic health records - the number of which has nearly doubled since 2008, and the reduction in hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired infections. In addition, there has been an effort to "shore up" the safety net and provide increasing support to community health centers as well as expand public health initiatives, in particular tackling childhood obesity and reducing tobacco use. Finally, Dr. Lambrew mentioned the inroads made to improve coverage, though she admitted, "there's considerably more work to go."
Looking ahead with a focus on the administration's priorities, Dr. Lambrew said much of the focus is on the two months left for open enrollement. There will be a push in social media and advertising, especially during the Olympic games, and the White House will work with partners to "make sure people understand their options, remove any barriers they face, and get them into the system."
All the while, there will be a focus in doubling down on delivery system reform, improving the accessibility and affordability of health care. The White House will spend the year working with Congress and welcoming opinions on how to expand coverage and reduce costs. Dr. Lambrew said that officials cannot become complacement with the current system:
The status quo is a formidable enemy...I have many bruises from the status quo.
There are challenges in the year ahead, said Dr. Lambrew and as we face them, she hopes there is "not only recognition that public policy can make a difference, but that public policy has made a difference."
Over the next two days, health policy experts and leaders will consider these challenges and discuss opportunities for the future. Follow the conversation at the National Health Policy Conference by following us on Twitter and at #NHPC14.