HHS chief rejects call for health care reform Sullivan says what's needed is new ways to streamline paperwork.

September 24, 1991|By Cox News Services

WASHINGTON ` — WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, rejecting calls for comprehensive health care reform, said he wants a public debate over narrowly defined tax and policy changes "that address our most urgent health care concerns."

Among them, he said, should be changes in the way the government and private insurance companies process paperwork.

Speaking to a health policy business forum yesterday, Sullivan announced he planned to convene a "summit" of major insurance companies to seek ways to reduce administrative costs.

Roughly 25 cents of every health care dollar is spent on insurance overhead, according to a study by professors from the Harvard Medical School published in May by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The General Accounting Office has estimated that insurance overhead costs roughly $67 billion a year.

Sullivan said such studies were "flawed" and warned that the public "is being misled."

"To be sure, there are economies to be realized by both public and private entities in the cost of administering our products," he said. "But some analysts today wildly exaggerate the magnitude of those savings."

Arnold Tompkins, counselor to the HHS deputy secretary, said the summit would probably begin in early November.

Robert Dreyfuss, director of public affairs for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader, said a summit with insurance companies "is absurd."

G; "Insurance companies are the problem . . . ," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.