Key Issues in Health Reform

The Federal Government's Role in Financing and Delivering Health Care - Lowering the Rate of Growth of Medicare Spending - Advance Care Planning for Serious Illness

As in all industrialized nations, the United States government plays a large role in the financing, organizing, overseeing—and in some instances—even delivery of health care.

The proposed health reform legislation would make sweeping changes in the way health care is financed, organized, and delivered in the United States. There is significant focus on three key areas in particular:

  • the federal government’s role in financing and delivering care
  • lowering the rate of growth in Medicare spending
  • advance-care planning for serious illness.

Provisions in a bill approved by three committees of the U.S. House of Representatives would pay physicians and other qualified health care practitioners to counsel Medicare beneficiaries on advance care planning, as well as to collect information on quality measures for end-of-life care.

This Health Policy Brief offers basic facts about the status quo and about how major pieces of reform legislation might affect the picture, and was published online on August 20, 2009 in Health Affairs.