Levitt Speaks to City Club

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Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Levitt says employers should use their leverage as purchasers of health care to force changes by health insurers. These include providing more information to consumers on prices, more information on quality comparisons among hospitals and demanding that medical providers switch to electronic record keeping that are compatible between medical institutions.

Michael Levitt: The combination of cost and quality provide value. And once people have value the magic of the marketplace begins to occur and quality increases and cost decreases.

Nationally, more than 200 large employers have signed onto the administration's transparency campaign. In Northeast Ohio, 14 companies are on board, including KeyBank, National City, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.

However, many Congressional Democrats in Washington say Levitt could do a lot on his own to bring down health costs if he could negotiate with big drug companies for lower prices for prescription drugs covered under Medicare and Medicaid. The Democrats want to remove current prohibitions on the Secretary doing that but the Bush administration opposes any change. Lisa Ann Pinkerton, 90.3.

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