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Families USA: Tom Daschle on Health Care Reform – Brian Klepper

Former Senator and Majority/Minority Leader Daschle gave the opening address on the 2nd day of the Families USA Health Action conference. Mr. Daschle has a new book coming out in March on America’s health system and our past efforts to fix it.

I was honestly impressed with Mr. Daschle’s grasp of the sweep of health care problems and how they play out. Mostly importantly, he was clearly aware of the deep challenges associated with getting meaningful change, given the industry’s control of Congress and the policy-making process.

"One of the biggest tactical mistakes we’ve made, the opponents of
health reform have defined the debate. As a result, we’ve lived under a
number of myths. Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that the US has the
best health system in the world. So before the debate can begin, we
need to all understand the same basic facts. We need to understand how
we got here and where we need to go."

"Incremental change in our
system is no longer a viable option. Instead we need comprehensive
reform. In growing numbers the American people are demanding that we do
something. Our goal should be to build what current and retired members
of Congress have today, and make that available for all Americans."

Here are some elements of his platform.

Establish an autonomous oversight body for health care
comparable to the Federal Reserve for our monetary sector. We need to
give this group the ability to control costs, starting with chronic
disease, which represents the largest block of costs to the system.

Investments in information technology would result in quantum leaps in efficiencies and quality improvements.

Pooling would aggregate the risks/costs for small business and individuals.

– Negotiate drug pricing. Build on and leverage the purchasing volumes that government already  is responsible for.

Prevention. Wellness, easy access and early intervention clearly saves enormous dollars.

Comparative Effectiveness. As
the Congressional Budget Office and Institute of Medicine have recently
pointed out, an autonomous national institute that could use large data
sets to identify the approaches that work best would clarify and unify
clinical practice throughout America, and would have significant impact
on both quality and cost.

– Transparency. We cannot fix our problems until we can see them more clearly.

– Medical Malpractice. Make it easier for physicians to make the best decisions, and protect them from frivolous legal actions.

Patient-provider interactions. Take advantage of technology to smooth the flow of communications between patients and the health system.

Universal Coverage. Increase access through health vouchers and coverage.

This is a much more thorough list than Ms. Pelosi offered, and Mr. Daschle seemed more aware of,  sensitive to and committed to the political challenges represented by the relationship between Congress and health care special interests. While none of his recommendations are novel or particularly surprising, there is no question that Mr. Daschle’s experience, access to governmental and business power, and clarity about what needs to be done represent important potential in the ongoing effort to actually get real change accomplished.

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brianKanayo Lala, Acton, MABill SardiCharles LuscombJimi Whitten Recent comment authors
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brian
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brian

The ca micra law is totally unfair. It is a “one size fits all” solution put into play 30 years ago with absolutly no cost of living adjustment. Hospitals and doctors get an exemption from the law and virtually answer to nobody. A doctor can legally get away with murder. Pain and suffering has no sliding scale. A loved one who is killed by a doctors negligence is awarded the same amount of money as a patient who had the wrong “pinky” finger operated on. Lawyers will very seldom take a ca. malpractice case unless there are substancial economic losses… Read more »

Kanayo Lala, Acton, MA
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Kanayo Lala, Acton, MA

Cost of any service can not be controlled or reduced unless the DEMAND is controlled OR the SUPPLY is increased. We all know this fundamental economic rule. We are doing exactly the opposite. DEMAND is rising as there is no education for PREVENTIVE measures for the younger generation. The cost of fixing the sick will keep rising as we do not control the cause of sickness. TAX Dollars will only provide the required education and help younger generation to stay away from the health problems. Since the US health system components are FOR PROFIT organizations, none of them including your… Read more »

Bill Sardi
Guest

Health reform is not expanding coverage to increase demand which further bankrups the system.
Expanding coverage to the uninsured will cause the insured to cancel their coverage and try to qualify for the free program.
Expanding coverage so that doctors, hospitals and drug companies get paid, without improving health, is is useless pursuit. If the Baby Boomers get sick on time, costs will implode the system.
The shils for the government who participate here should be easily detected by their advocacy for greater largesse.

Charles Luscomb
Guest
Charles Luscomb

This is my take: Medicare has been hiring Insurance Companies to manage their healthcare business requirements for a fee for each participant plus Medicare also provides the $s to the Insurance Companies to pay the amount due the service providers that is permissable under the Medicare guidelines. The Insurance Companies go forth with very attractive rates to Medicare Recipients to entice them to sign up. The “contracts” are for one year, and one needs to sign up again for the next year or just do nothing and you are automatically “in”. The reason for the annual renewal is so the… Read more »

Jimi Whitten
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Jimi Whitten

Some bozo said doctors should be paid the same as school teachers – what a stupid thing to say. YOU have a choice, go to school , party like heck and learn to load a film projector or take some physics, math, chemisrty and biology classes, spend your college years with your head in a book. Barely pass a state mandated proficiency exam or pass the MD Boards. Now why in the hell should these people earn the same wage?

Jimi Whitten
Guest
Jimi Whitten

Are all of you folks blind? Look at what the fed has done with the financial situation and now you want tohand health care to a similar body? I know it is a tough and difficult thing to swallow but some of us worked hard and have health care – where I pick my doctor and we decide the treatment – and some didn’t work or save and now they don’t have! Put health care above 6-pack on the grocery list and more Americans would have health care. I wish I had all of premiums back to piss off –… Read more »

R.R.
Guest
R.R.

The absolute solution is to cut costs. Just say NO to greedy doctors. Doctors should get paid the same as elementary school teachers. $50K MAX. Thank God we FINALLY have some smart Democrats like Mr. Daschle and President Obama that can reign in those fat, lazy, greedy bastard doctors!!!

R J Calcaterra
Guest
R J Calcaterra

I have adequate health insurance… in addition I have mandatory medicare. Throughout my 41 years as a U.S. Civil Servant I maintained Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance. I continue to pay nearly $400.00 a month for the exact same insurance I had throughout my career.. and in addition now that I am 65 I am also paying nearly a $100 a month for medicare part B. Doctors would gladly see me a year ago.. but I just relocated to another state and when I tell them I have Medicare AND Blue Cross.. they tell me they are not taking… Read more »

C W Patterson
Guest

No, No, Senator Daschle. This is more of the same and expecting a different result. We can’t deal with insurance Goliaths. We must stop their waste of health care dollars.
We need Health Care Savings Accounts. One for every citizen, from birth. Let us fund them with monthly installments of pretax dollars, let the government “bail out” the system until we have saved the amount we would have if this reform had been implemented when it should have been; and thereafter we will manage our own health care without government funding and without no one’s interference.
Thank You Very Much.

FredN
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FredN

First, I don’t care about what is going on in Cuba or any other socialized state. This is about healthcare, not about pushing forth socialist ideas. Having first a heart attack and subsequently open heart surgery 21 years ago (39 years old) the 4th of January, doctors who have examined me told me if they didn’t see the scar on my chest, they would have never known I ever had a heart attack. My heart has completely healed. I still suffer from arteriorsclerosis and always will. A genetic problem, not one caused from eating excess junk foods. I have followed… Read more »

Dennis Cotter
Guest

The creation of a Federal Health Board sounds somewhat reminiscent of DHHS’ National Center for Health Care Technology (1979-82) whose charge was to assess the value of established and new technologies. Although its tenure was short-lived, one should learn from the reasons for its demise.

tanya marquette
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tanya marquette

The problem with most of the posts is that they don’t address the real problem: the very basis of what constitutes health. We have a medical industry in this country, developed by hook and by crook over the past 100+ years. Everything that Daschle speaks about is supporting the same corporate centered system that exists. The problem is not whether the medical system is controlled by the government or the private corporate sector. The problem is that we have no philosphical underpinning that supports health. It is not just people eating too much. It is that the USDA supports the… Read more »

jcamp
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jcamp

If you ever worked for these bloody insurance companies (I have for 5 years) you would never want them involved in any medical decision making either medical or mental health. They choose who live and die and who can practice and who can’t. Don’t believe fools that say the government can’t run something. Also beware of certain bought dogs in congress that report to lobbyists. Hilary Clinton had exactly the right idea (single payor) at the wrong time. Now is the right time.

John T. James, Ph.D.
Guest
John T. James, Ph.D.

Having lost a 19-year old son to unethical and incompetent care by a bunch of cardiologists in his college town, and having studied the scientific medical research related to his care and the general poor quality of healthcare in this country, I make the following suggestions: 1) We patients must have an enforced, national patient bill of rights to protect us from dangerous healthcare and engage us fully in our own care. I have proposed such a bill of rights in my book “A Sea of Broken Hearts.” My proposal is based on the Institute of Medicine book “Crossing the… Read more »

Kevin Dunleavy
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Kevin Dunleavy

As much as I like the idea of universal healthcare (especially since I do not have it right now because I cannot afford it), I do not think that I want to see it put into practice. The government has already shown us how it is able to “help” us ensure aid in tough times with our own money (i.e. social security – something I am positive I will never see). Sure it would work at first, but just like SS, what if a decade or two down the road Congress sees they have this “fund” overflowing with money that… Read more »