National Health Policy Forum

Josh Ternyak

April 22, 2024

The National Health Policy Forum

The National Health Policy Forum (NHPF) is an organization that aims to contribute to a better-informed policymaking process for federal health policy staff. Established in 2002 and located at George Washington University, the NHPF operates under the Office of the Vice President for Research Library of Congress.

Origins and Purpose

The NHPF was created with the purpose of creating a high-quality healthcare system that is affordable, equitable, efficient, and sustainable National Health Policy Forum. It serves as a platform for federal health policy staff to engage in a learning environment free from media pressure or influence from special interest groups. This environment allows for the exploration of health policy decisions and challenges, fostering a more informed and comprehensive approach to policymaking.

Funding and Location

The operations of the NHPF are primarily funded by private foundations. The organization is located at George Washington University, providing a central hub for collaboration and knowledge exchange within the academic setting.

Services Provided

The NHPF offers a range of services to federal health policy staff, addressing various needs from basic education to complex healthcare system analyses. Some of the services provided include:

  • Facilitating bipartisan relationships: The NHPF plays a crucial role in fostering relationships among Congress and executive branch staff. By hosting meetings, publications, and site visits, the NHPF provides opportunities for federal health policy staff to engage with experts and thought leaders, promoting collaboration and a deeper understanding of the complexities of healthcare policy.
  • Creating a learning environment: The NHPF offers a learning environment that encourages open dialogue and the exchange of ideas. Through seminars, workshops, and conferences, federal health policy staff can enhance their knowledge and skills in various health policy areas.
  • Publications and resources: The NHPF produces publications and resources that cover a wide range of health policy topics. These resources serve as valuable references and tools for federal health policy staff as they navigate the complexities of policymaking.

The National Health Policy Forum is dedicated to providing federal health policy staff with the necessary support and resources to make informed decisions and navigate the ever-changing landscape of healthcare policy. Through their services, the NHPF plays a vital role in shaping and improving healthcare policy in the United States.

NHPF Operations

The National Health Policy Forum (NHPF) is an organization dedicated to providing a learning environment and facilitating bipartisan relationships among federal health policy staff. Through its operations, NHPF aims to contribute to a better-informed policymaking process for federal health policies, ultimately working towards the creation of a high-quality, affordable, equitable, efficient, and sustainable healthcare system.

Learning Environment

NHPF offers federal health policy staff a learning environment that is free from media pressure and influence from special interest groups. This environment allows for the exploration of health policy decisions, challenges, and trade-offs away from external pressures [1]. By providing this safe space for knowledge exchange and discussion, NHPF enables staff members to delve deep into the complexities of healthcare policy and gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.

Bipartisan Relationships

One of the key aspects of NHPF's operations is the facilitation of bipartisan relationships among Congress staff, executive branch personnel, and key influencers in the health policy community. Through hosting meetings, publications, and site visits, NHPF provides opportunities for staff members to engage with experts and thought leaders in the field. These interactions foster a collaborative environment where individuals from different political backgrounds can come together to address the various needs of federal health policy staff [1].

Publications and Topics Covered

NHPF publishes a wide range of materials covering diverse topics in health policy. These publications serve as valuable resources for federal health policy staff, providing them with insights and analysis on various aspects of the healthcare system. Topics covered by NHPF publications include Medicare, Medicaid, health workforce needs, public health programs, long-term care services, and different healthcare financing mechanisms.

The publications produced by NHPF are a vital source of information, helping federal health policy staff stay informed about the latest developments in healthcare and aiding in the decision-making process. By offering comprehensive analyses, NHPF equips staff members with the knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of healthcare policy and make informed decisions.

Through its learning environment, bipartisan relationships, and extensive publications, NHPF plays a crucial role in supporting federal health policy staff as they work towards improving the healthcare system and shaping policies that benefit the nation as a whole.

Impact of NHPF

The National Health Policy Forum (NHPF) has made a significant impact on policymaking in the field of national health policy. Through its dedicated efforts, NHPF has contributed to shaping the healthcare landscape by providing valuable insights and expertise. Let's explore some key aspects of the impact made by NHPF.

Contribution to Policymaking

The primary objective of the National Health Policy Forum, is to contribute to a better-informed policymaking process for federal health policy staff. NHPF strives to create a high-quality healthcare system that is affordable, equitable, efficient, and sustainable.

By providing federal health policy staff with a learning environment free from media pressure or influence from special interest groups, NHPF enables exploration of health policy decisions and challenges. This allows policymakers to access a wide range of information and perspectives, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the complex issues involved in healthcare policymaking.

Independence and Neutrality

NHPF is committed to independence and neutrality in its operations. According to the National Health Policy Forum, the organization dedicates itself to providing practical and balanced information to policymakers in a press-free zone. This commitment ensures that policymakers receive unbiased information and can make decisions based on evidence and the best interests of the public.

By creating a neutral and independent environment, NHPF fosters an atmosphere where policymakers can engage in open and informed discussions. This approach allows for the exploration of various perspectives and viewpoints, leading to more well-rounded and effective policymaking.

Staff Expertise and Leadership

The staff of NHPF, led by founder Judith Miller Jones, consists of a small team of health policy analysts with diverse technical expertise acquired from both public and private sector roles. This expertise allows the staff to provide in-depth analysis and insights on a wide range of healthcare topics.

The emphasis placed on independence, neutrality, and the provision of practical, balanced information ensures that the staff of NHPF can offer valuable guidance and support to policymakers. By leveraging their expertise and leadership, NHPF helps policymakers navigate the complexities of healthcare policy, enabling them to make well-informed decisions that have a positive impact on the healthcare system.

The impact of NHPF is evident in its contributions to the policymaking process, its commitment to independence and neutrality, and the expertise and leadership of its staff. By providing a platform for informed dialogue and analysis, NHPF plays a crucial role in shaping the future of healthcare policy.

US Healthcare System Comparison

When comparing the US healthcare system to that of other countries, several disparities become evident. These disparities can be observed in healthcare spending, utilization rates and pricing, as well as administrative costs and health outcomes.

Healthcare Spending Disparities

The United States stands out as having the highest healthcare costs per capita among OECD countries. In 2022, the US spent an estimated $12,555 per person on healthcare, significantly surpassing other nations. Switzerland followed as the second highest-spending country with about $8,049 per capita. In comparison, the average healthcare spending per person for wealthy OECD countries, excluding the United States, was only $6,414 [2].

Utilization Rates and Pricing

Despite the significantly higher healthcare spending in the United States, utilization rates do not differ significantly from other wealthy OECD countries. Instead, it is the prices of healthcare services that contribute to the cost disparity. The US tends to have higher prices for services such as hospital stays, angioplasty surgeries, and knee replacements. This difference in pricing is a major driver of the cost disparity between the United States and other wealthy countries [2].

Administrative Costs and Health Outcomes

The United States also faces high administrative costs in its healthcare system. Administrative costs per person in the US exceed $900, which is four times higher than the average of other wealthy countries. The amount spent on administrative costs is roughly equivalent to the expenditure on preventive or long-term healthcare in the US. This highlights the disproportionate allocation of resources towards administrative functions.

Despite the higher healthcare spending, America's health outcomes do not surpass those of other developed countries. In fact, the US performs worse in certain health metrics, including life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes. This discrepancy between expenditure and health outcomes underscores the need for a closer examination of the US healthcare system [2].

A comparison of healthcare system performance conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in 2021 ranked the United States 11th out of 11 countries studied, while the UK ranked 4th out of 11. Additionally, data from the OECD shows that the UK consistently has lower rates of preventable mortality compared to the US [4].

Understanding the disparities in healthcare spending, utilization rates and pricing, and administrative costs and health outcomes is crucial to identifying potential areas for improvement and implementing reforms that can lead to a more efficient and effective healthcare system.

Transforming Healthcare System

In order to address the challenges posed by high costs and poor outcomes, there is a need to transform the healthcare system into one that provides quality care at a lower cost. This transformation requires identifying challenges, exploring potential reforms, and seizing opportunities for improvement.

Quality Care at Lower Cost

One of the primary goals of healthcare system transformation is to provide quality care at a lower cost. Despite spending nearly twice as much on healthcare per capita compared to other wealthy OECD countries, the United States does not exhibit significantly different utilization rates. The main driver of the cost difference appears to be higher prices for services such as hospital stays, angioplasty surgeries, and knee replacements in the U.S. [2]. By addressing the pricing disparities, it is possible to achieve quality care without excessive financial burden.

Challenges and Potential Reforms

There are several challenges that need to be addressed in order to transform the healthcare system. The United States spends over $900 per person on administrative costs, four times more than the average of other wealthy countries. This high administrative cost is equivalent to the amount spent on preventive or long-term healthcare in the U.S. [2]. Streamlining administrative processes and reducing administrative waste can contribute to significant cost savings.

Another challenge is the disparity between healthcare spending and health outcomes. Despite higher healthcare spending, the United States does not perform better than other developed countries in terms of metrics like life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes [2]. By focusing on evidence-based practices, preventive care, and population health management, it is possible to improve health outcomes while controlling costs.

To achieve these goals, potential reforms should be explored. This includes promoting value-based care models that prioritize outcomes and cost-effectiveness, encouraging innovation in healthcare delivery and payment systems, and fostering collaboration between healthcare providers, insurers, and policymakers. By implementing reforms that address the root causes of high costs and poor outcomes, the healthcare system can be transformed into one that is more efficient, accessible, and sustainable.

Opportunities for Improvement

Opportunities exist to improve the healthcare system and move towards a more cost-effective and patient-centered approach. By leveraging technology and data analytics, healthcare organizations can enhance care coordination, reduce unnecessary procedures, and improve patient outcomes. Telehealth and remote monitoring can increase access to care, particularly for underserved populations or those in rural areas.

Investing in preventive care and early interventions can help reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases and minimize the need for costly treatments. Additionally, fostering research and innovation in healthcare can lead to the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and technologies that improve patient outcomes while reducing costs.

By embracing these opportunities and implementing evidence-based reforms, the healthcare system can undergo a transformative shift towards providing quality care at a lower cost. It requires the collaboration and commitment of stakeholders including policymakers, healthcare providers, insurers, and patients to create a sustainable and equitable healthcare system for all.

Stanford Medicine Events

Stanford Medicine hosts a series of thought-provoking events as part of the National Health Policy Forum, covering a wide range of topics related to healthcare policy and practice. These events bring together experts, policymakers, and thought leaders to discuss pressing issues and explore potential solutions. Let's explore some past event highlights, the diverse topics covered, and notable speakers and discussions.

Past Event Highlights

Stanford Medicine has organized various impactful events as part of the National Health Policy Forum. Here are a few notable highlights:

  1. Easing the Burden of Long COVID: This event, held on Thursday, March 7, 2024, focused on the nature, treatment, and societal impact of long COVID. Speakers included Dr. Hector Bonilla, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Co-Director of Stanford Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Clinic, Stanford University, and Dr. Gopi Shah Goda, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Associate Professor of Health Policy (by courtesy) and Professor of Economics (by courtesy), Stanford University.
  2. The Cost of Cancer: On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, this event addressed the high cost of cancer treatments, a significant concern for patients and healthcare systems. Speakers included Stacie B. Dusetzina, Professor Health Policy and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Alyce Adams, Professor of Health Policy, Epidemiology and Population Health and of Pediatrics (by Courtesy), Stanford Medicine.
  3. AI and Healthcare: Held on Friday, April 14, 2023, this event explored the potential applications and future of artificial intelligence in healthcare. Speakers included Bob Kocher, Partner at Venrock, and Sherri Rose, Professor of Health Policy.
  4. Reproductive Health: Now What?: This event, conducted on Wednesday, November 18, 2022, delved into the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Speakers included Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, Professor of Law and of Health Policy, and Leslee Subak, MD, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
  5. The Future of American Health Care Policy: A Conversation with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren: Held on October 7, 2019, this event featured a candid conversation with U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, analyzing the politics and policy of the U.S. healthcare system.

Diverse Topics Covered

The Stanford Medicine events under the National Health Policy Forum cover a wide range of topics relevant to healthcare policy and practice. These events aim to address pressing issues and foster meaningful discussions. Some of the diverse topics covered include:

  • Long COVID and its impact on society
  • The cost of cancer treatments
  • Artificial intelligence in healthcare
  • Reproductive health policies
  • The future of American healthcare policy

These events provide a platform for experts and stakeholders to engage in dialogue, share insights, and propose innovative solutions to critical healthcare challenges.

Notable Speakers and Discussions

Stanford Medicine events feature prominent speakers and foster engaging discussions on healthcare policy and practice. Renowned experts and thought leaders from various fields contribute their expertise and perspectives. Some notable speakers from past events include:

  • Dr. Hector Bonilla, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. Gopi Shah Goda, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)
  • Stacie B. Dusetzina, Professor Health Policy and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research
  • Alyce Adams, Professor of Health Policy, Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Bob Kocher, Partner at Venrock
  • Sherri Rose, Professor of Health Policy
  • Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, Professor of Law and of Health Policy
  • Leslee Subak, MD, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren

These speakers contribute to enlightening discussions and provide valuable insights into the complex landscape of healthcare policy and its implementation.

Stanford Medicine's National Health Policy Forum continues to organize events that foster dialogue, advance understanding, and drive innovation in healthcare policy and practice.

References

[1]: https://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/sphhscentersnhpf/

[2]: https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2023/07/how-does-the-us-healthcare-system-compare-to-other-countries

[3]: https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2021/aug/mirror-mirror-2021-reflecting-poorly

[4]: https://www-oecd-ilibrary-org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/sites/3b4fdbf2-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/3b4fdbf2-en

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