Unreliability of the American Health Planning Association's Savings Estimate for the Health Planning Program

HRD-80-49: Published: Mar 13, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1980.

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In early 1979, the American Health Planning Association, a national organization representing areawide and State health planning agencies established under the 1974 National Health Planning and Resources Development Act, completed a survey of the impact of the health planning program. The Association reported that planning agencies had disapproved or discouraged proposed capital investment projects totaling $3.4 billion between August 1976 and August 1978 and that disapproval of these projects would save at least another $10 billion in related operating costs during the 1980's.

In the course of a study of the implementation of the 1974 Act, GAO found that data supporting the Association's $3.4 billion total savings estimate were unreliable and, therefore, not an accurate measure of the health planning program's impact. Specifically, of the $2.2 billion related to reviews of proposed projects, $1 billion could not be supported from available data, and $1.2 billion was questionable because of deficiencies in the development of questionnaires used in the reviews. The findings related only to the reliability of the Association's overall savings estimate and did not indicate that the health planning program had not prevented unneeded investment in the health care system.

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