D.C.-Based West Health Policy Center Launches Today, Targets $100B in Common Sense Health Care Savings

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Today, philanthropic pioneers Gary and Mary West launched the West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. with the goal of saving up to $100 billion in cumulative health care costs within ten years.

"Health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and that has caused a national crisis that threatens our economy and national security, weakens our global competitiveness, causes millions of jobs to be "offshored" and violates public trust," said Gary West. "It is vital for the future of our country to begin immediately focusing on some common sense changes in health care reimbursement and regulation."

Independently funded by a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment from the Wests, the Policy Center is the only non-profit, non-partisan organization with the single aim of lowering health care costs. Among other things, the Policy Center will initially work to create an efficient medical marketplace by advancing:

Infrastructure independent care - Providing patients with the right care, at the right time, wherever they are, whenever they need it. This will be enabled by new models of care coordination powered by smart technology. This stands in sharp contrast to the current health care delivery system, which is centered around clinician location and appointment availability when a patient has a health crisis.

Price transparency -- Providing timely, easily accessible, easily understandable and actionable price data allows consumers and providers to fully understand the costs associated with diagnostic, therapeutic and routine health care choices.

Rational reimbursement -- Advocating for reimbursement models that incentivize development and use of equally or more effective low-cost, high-value alternatives to the status quo.

Practical regulation -- Providing research and analysis for clear regulatory pathways to expeditiously bring tools that enable infrastructure-independent low cost care to consumers and clinicians.

Appropriate care utilization - Identifying wasteful, costly, unnecessary or duplicated health care spending.

Opportunities for change will be identified through a cornerstone of the Policy Center -- a competitive fellowship program where five established researchers will be selected through a nationwide application and interview process each year based on their ability to identify at least $1 billion in actionable annual health care cost savings. The Policy Center's first fellow is Dr. Peter Neumann, an internationally renowned researcher on the use of cost-effectiveness analysis in health care decision making. He currently serves as the Director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Neumann will join four other fellows in identifying opportunities for regulatory and reimbursement changes, ensuring that the rules across federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are aligned with each other to allow for equal or better clinical outcomes at lower costs.

"While the need for system-wide change in health care is dire, our current political climate won't let that happen through legislation. We are confident that the Policy Center will identify practical, common sense solutions that will significantly reduce the cost of health care for all Americans," said West.

"Failure to deal with this rapidly accelerating problem immediately will be catastrophic to the American people and the American way of life. We believe we can identify relatively simple changes that can generate more than $100 billion in cumulative savings over the next ten years. That is why Mary and I created the West Health Policy Center, to do what others have ignored and to provide practical solutions that lower the cost of health care now," he continued.

The Policy Center is part of the West Health Initiative that also includes the West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) and the West Health Investment Fund, all established by Gary and Mary West. These separate vehicles share a similar mission to lower health care costs by leveraging medical research, innovation, education, and investment to spur a low-cost health care ecosystem.

In addition to its unique fellowship program, the Policy Center will continue WWHI's work to educate and convene policy makers and the public and private sectors. On January 26, the Center joins CMS and Health Affairs in bringing together health delivery systems, physicians, innovators, policymakers, academics, and investors at the Health Care Innovations Summit to be held in Washington, D.C. This event will showcase care delivery and payment solutions already working in the marketplace and catalyze the dialogue for applying and expanding successful solutions to lower the cost of health care.

About the West Health Policy Center The West Health Policy Center ( www.westhealthpolicy.org ) is an independently-funded nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, located in Washington, D.C., whose single aim is to lower health care costs. Launched by philanthropic pioneers Gary and Mary West, the Policy Center's sole focus and funding structure make it a valuable voice to policy makers and thought leaders as government tackles the problem of rising health care costs. Follow us on Twitter @westhealthpol.

About Gary & Mary WestGary and Mary West are entrepreneurs and philanthropic pioneers with a commitment to creating an entirely new ecosystem to lower health care costs through technology and innovation. The couple's passion is rooted in their experience building a world-class company with more than 35,000 employees, which made them acutely aware of the pressing need to do something about the rising and unsustainable cost of health care in the United States.

The Wests have founded numerous companies over the last four decades, including West Corporation, which became one of the largest customer relationship management providers in the world with more than $3.5 billion in annual sales and was taken private in 2006. Since then, the couple established the Gary and Mary West Foundation in 2006; the West Wireless Health Institute, a non-profit medical research organization, in 2009; and, the West Health Investment Fund in 2011.

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