CBO: No Cost Savings in Disease Management

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - In what may come as a stunning surprise, the Congressional Budget Office today reports that there is virtually no literature supporting cost savings through Disease Management programs.

"What is particularly important about this report is that it comes at a time when Congress and legislatures across the country are beginning to pour millions of dollars into disease management," says Twila Brase, president of Citizens' Council on Health Care.

"What this should say to state legislatures and Congress is 'Don't waste the taxpayer's money," she adds.

Disease management focuses on chronic disease and practice guidelines. It attempts to educate people about their chronic disease, to encourage proper use of medication, to modify patient behavior, to monitor patient symptoms and treatment plans (following practice guidelines), and to coordinate care for patients with chronic disease.

However, in a letter to Congressman Don Nickles, the CBO writes:

- "There is insufficient evidence to conclude that disease management programs can generally reduce overall health spending."

- "The few studies that report cost savings do so for controlled settings and generally fail to account for all health care costs, including the cost of the intervention itself. Furthermore, if disease management programs were applied to broader populations, the reported savings might not be attainable, and the programs could even raise costs."

Physicians should be very concerned. The report notes that if disease management leads to increased use of physician services in Medicare, Medicare's "sustainable growth rate" payment system will result in reduced payments to physicians:

"In effect, physicians as a group would bear the increased cost instead of the Medicare program."

"At a time when health care costs are a big concern to the American public, this report should lead legislators, government officials and employers to take a second look at just what they're paying for," says Brase.

CBO REPORT: http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=5909&sequence=0&from=7

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935