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Bridges to Excellence Helps Employers Achieve Bush Administration’s “Cornerstones” for Health Care Purchasing
BTE Commends Secretary Leavitt for Unprecedented Scope

December 6, 2006

Washington, D.C. - The Department of Health and Human Services’ drive to get 60 percent of the nation’s employers to commit to President Bush’s “four cornerstones” plan for the purchase of health insurance is both commendable and unprecedented in scope, according to Bridges to Excellence (BTE), the employer-sponsored, value-based purchasing group.

“Bridges to Excellence is enthusiastic about supporting this national initiative, and very impressed with the resources, attention and focus being given it by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),” said Francois de Brantes, national coordinator of BTE.  “We don’t think there has been a prior example of HHS leadership establishing such a solid partnership between the private and the public sectors to drive a common goal in improving the healthcare system.”

In a Nov. 17 speech at the Business Roundtable National Summit on Health Care Transparency, co-sponsored by BTE, HHS Sec. Mike Leavitt said that the agency initially targeted only the top 200 U.S. employers for the initiative, but is now beginning to target all employers.

The four cornerstones plan was outlined by President Bush in an August executive order and urges employers to prioritize four criteria when they purchase health insurance: promoting the adoption and use interoperable health care information technology; reporting of quality of care measures; reporting of health care price information; and incentives for high-quality, cost-effective care.

“Most large employers and many others have been engaged in value-driven health care purchasing efforts for years, so a commitment to the four cornerstones is a logical extension of those efforts,” de Brantes said.  “This is a very serious initiative by Secretary Leavitt and HHS, uniformly supported by all the employer and multi-stakeholder groups that have a value-driven healthcare system as a core agenda.  We’re all going to work very hard to make this work.”

BTE is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers for meeting specific quality criteria. More than 100 employers and a number of large employer groups actively participate in BTE’s programs. 

de Brantes said BTE’s programs “hit the sweet spot on three of the four cornerstones” because they (1) recognize and reward physicians for the adoption of better systems of care, including the adoption and use of interoperable health information technology, (2) publicly display and make available to consumers information on the quality of care of physicians in the community, and (3) create specific financial rewards for physicians to improve the quality of care they deliver.

 “We have the only national ready-made pay-for-performance program to help employers and health plans meet the cornerstones on the physician side,” said Dale Whitney, BTE president and board chair.  “If the employer or health plan is trying to meet the cornerstones, BTE is a partner they need.”

de Brantes said BTE has licensed its programs to five national health plans: Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United, and WellPoint, and that many regional plans have also adopted BTE's programs. 

He applauded HHS for the full-scale effort to promote value-driven healthcare through the campaign for employers to purchase health benefits based on the four cornerstones to create a more transparent healthcare system.

“The larger employers represent about 40 percent of all employees,” he said.  “The health plans are already working on high performance networks and transparency initiatives that, to a large extent, meet the four cornerstones.  And what the health plans do for larger employers, they’ll do for everyone.”


For more information about HHS’s Value-Driven Health Care initiative, go to

About Bridges to Excellence
Bridges to Excellence (BTE) is a non-profit coalition-based organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, and patient-centered care. BTE works with large employers, health plans, providers and a wide range of organizations that have a shared goal of improving quality and patient outcomes. For more information go to

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Bridges to Excellence does not endorse any particular product or service or any physician or physician group.

Bridges to Excellence relies on third -party performance assessment organizations such as the NCQA and Quality Improvement Organizations to measure a physician or physician's group performance and ability to demonstrate that they meet certain measures of quality care.