View Header


Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 17, 1998

             Also Praises Formation of Planning Committee 
             to Create Historical National Quality Forum

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore today released a new Department of Health and Human Services report documenting the quality problems in the health care system, and he announced the formation of a planning committee to create a historic national Quality Forum designed to identify a core set of quality measures that America's health plans would adopt.

"I am pleased to announce that private businesses, health consumer groups, professional organizations, labor unions, and employers are coming together to plan America's very first health care Quality Forum," Vice President Gore said. "The Quality Forum will, for the first time, ensure that consumers have a consistent set of standards so they can choose health plans based on quality -- not just cost."

"Providing higher quality medical attention means healthier patients, lower costs, and greater confidence in America's health care system," Vice President Gore added. "This new effort isn't the end of the road, but I believe the Quality Forum will be a significant and positive step forward."

Findings in the report include:

     Under-use of services.  Early detection of breast cancer 
     through mammograms can prevent up to 30% of breast cancer 
     deaths each year.  Thirty percent of women age 52 to 69 in 
     surveyed managed care plans, however, had not received a 
     mammogram in the previous two years.

     Over-use of services.  Antibiotics are frequently over
     prescribed, contributing to resistance to antibiotics.  Such
     resistance could cost as much as $7.5 billion a year for more
     invasive and expensive health care interventions.

     Misuse of services.  180,000 people die each year due to
     preventable errors in hospitals.

     Widespread variation of services.  Hospitals discharge rates 
     and lengths of stay are 40 percent higher in the Northeast 
     than in the West.

     In addition, the Vice President praised the formation of a

privately-funded planning committee to develop a national Quality Forum to address these issues by designing a comprehensive plan to ensure the widespread availability of comparative information to improve the quality of health care. The Quality Forum will aim to:

     Identify core sets of quality measures for standardized
     reporting by all sectors of the health care industry;

     Establish a framework and capacity for quality measurement
     and reporting;

     Support the focused development of quality measures that
     enhance and improve the ability to evaluate and improve 
     care; and

     Ensure that comparative information on health care quality
     is valid, reliable, comprehensible, and widely available in
     the public domain.

     This 21-member planning committee includes representatives of:  

public and private purchasers; consumers; health providers; health professionals; health plans; and the labor community. Gail Warden, the Chief Executive Officer of the Henry Ford Health Care System, will serve as Chair of the planning committee and James Tallon, President of the United Hospital Fund of New York, will serve as Executive Director.