WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Apr 12, 2011) - The National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of large U.S. employers, today applauded the Obama administration's Partnership for Patients initiative and announced it will immediately begin developing a new, comprehensive toolkit to help employers support this major effort to improve the quality and safety of health care in the United States.

Research shows that medical errors contribute to nearly 100,000 deaths per year and that more than two million Americans annually develop infections after being hospitalized. The Partnership for Patients initiative calls on employers, health plans, hospitals, clinicians, consumers and unions to partner with the Obama administration to make hospital care safer, more reliable and less costly. The ultimate goals of the initiative are to reduce harm caused to patients in hospitals and to reduce hospital readmissions.

In applauding the Partnership for Patients initiative, Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, said, "Improving the quality and safety of our health care system has been and continues to be a high priority issue for our organization and employers. In fact, large employers have been major supporters of improving the safety and quality of health care, and are behind some of the most significant developments in recent years in coming up with solutions designed to address and prevent harm to patients and unnecessary hospital readmissions."

The National Business Group on Health, which created a patient safety toolkit for employers a few years ago, now plans a new toolkit to aid employers working independently with their health plans to support the initiative. The toolkit will include information on the new initiative, examples of payment model options employers can work with their health plans to administer, a strategic decision guide to help employers decide on the scope of their effort, and communication tips and resources to help employees and their family members choose hospital care.

A key element of the Partnership for Patients initiative is changing how various payors -- private employers, unions, health plans and the government -- pay for health care. The administration noted that all too often, these payors are unnecessarily spending more for care that is not improving the health of their employees, members and beneficiaries. A critical aspect to the initiative is to tie payments to hospitals and other providers directly to the quality of care they deliver.

"Changing how hospitals and providers are paid for delivering care is exactly the kind of dynamic shift our nation's health care system needs to improve patient safety and quality. Furthermore, we believe that employer participation in the Partnership for Patients initiative will be essential to the program's overall success. Employers have much at stake. Health care costs continue to increase at unacceptable levels and thousands of individuals including workers continue to suffer from medical errors," concluded Darling.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit, membership organization of large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to their most important health care and related benefits issues and to being the voice for large employers on national health care issues. The Business Group, whose 322 members include 66 of the Fortune 100, identifies, develops and shares best practices in health benefits, disability, health and productivity, related paid time off and work/life balance issues. Business Group members provide health coverage for more than 55 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

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Ed Emerman