The New Democrat Coalition, which promotes itself as a group of centrist House Democrats, released a white paper Friday that describes its healthcare policy priorities for 2012.
Cue the soaring music as the New Dems go way out on a political limb (not) and declare their support for a new Medicare payment system that rewards quality, new delivery models that increase efficiency, an FDA approval process that moves more quickly, and widespread adoption of health IT systems.
The list may sound familiar because it encompasses many of the tenets of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So what's the point? A Congressional insider, who asked not to be identified, calls the 900+-page PPACA a "work in progress," with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid charged with connecting the dots to develop a coordinated care system that emphasizes quality and efficiency. "The coalition will continue to put out proposals and weigh in at the regulatory level," my source says.
So think of this white paper, New Democrat Coalition Principles for Supporting Innovation in our Nation's Health Care System, as a political line in the sand. It puts Republicans and other Democrats, as well as HHS and CMS, on notice that the 42-member coalition is united in its focus on this shortlist of priorities to advance the continued implementation and refinement of PPACA. With the exception of the FDA proposals, the coalition won't be fighting for new legislation. Mostly it will hold committee hearings and schedule dialogue with regulatory agencies.