Friday frolicks in Nawlins

I’m in New Orleans taking the day off (shhh…wife is sleeping, don’t wake her yet!). Yesterday I gave a talk about Health 2.0 to a very confused looking group of state legislators at the National Conference of State Legislators.

But what was really confusing was the exhibit hall. There was a complete dogs breakfast of interest groups there. The NRA across from the Brady campaign to ban handguns; There were 4 or 5 variations of the humane society, and PETA had 2 booths, one explicitly about cruelty to elephants in circuses, and Barnum & Bailey/Ringling Bros also had a booth (presumably to try to stop legislators caring about cruelty to elephants). The oil & gas industry was next to a big booth of plug-in electric cars. All the right-wing think tanks (Cato, Heartland et al) were spread around, while the lefties (ACLU, Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way) were all sequestered in a ghetto. There were the correctional guys, the taser sellers, and about 4 booths selling  ways to put alcohol breath locks on cars. Plus a bunch of companies selling micro-targeting marketing software—all used for targeting voters….not to forget the nudists—their trade association (who knew? or should that be, who nude?) was there and gave me a “naked-nation” pin. Not sure where I was supposed to pin it!

And of course the health care people were all there. Who knew that there are two different masseuse associations (with booths dead opposite each other), and of course the lab guys, the NPs, etc, etc were all there too. There was a mobile optometrists truck put on by an vision care insurer (VPS) which goes to under-served areas giving free eye exams and glasses.

But no prizes for guessing the biggest two booths in the whole
place. One had a full lab testing service including cholesterol tests
& bone density tests put on by the various pharmacy associations
and paid for by the drug companies. The other was a huge mock doctors’
office from the AMA and all the specialty societies. On the side it had
a big slogan about, you’ve guessed it, the need to go after their
common enemy, the lawyers.

So I guess if you want to understand how American politics works, that exhibit hall wasn’t a bad place to be.

Random other link: Organized Wisdom tells Business Week that if you want to get ahead in business, stop showing up to work.
By the way Arizona Medicaid, no less, has done something very
similar—sending all its customer service reps home and reaping big
improvements in productivity.

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4 replies »

  1. Peter hit the nail on the head. When government or insurance companies foot the whole bill for medical care, patients don’t care what it costs. That’s the main problem I have with the current state of the national health care debate. “Universal Coverage” just shifts the bill to the government, it doesn’t address the costs. Simply regulating physicians, drug companies, device makers, etc. doesn’t solve the problem either. Regardless of who is insuring people, patients have to be responsible for some of the costs of using the health care system, otherwise there’s no incentive for them to care how much a procedure costs or how effective it is in treating their problem.

  2. DrEric, if the patients are the Medicare crowd (boomers included)they won’t care about cost, just about getting the government, through AARP, to spend more on their behalf, and of course, keeping their taxes low. I believe as the boomers have bubbled through the job and housing markets they’ll just balloon the cost of healthcare as well.

  3. Interestingly, in that exhibition hall in N.O., there was not a booth for “Patients.” At then end of the day, they should be the ultimate focus of the healthcare system. Unfortunately, patients usually take a back seat to money–money interested physicians, money interested drug companies, money interested lawyers, money interested insurance companies.
    Maybe when patients are brought back to the center of the healthcare debate we will start to see some real improvement. I have a feeling it is coming… with the baby-boomers approaching Medicare age and starting to use the healthcare system more because of the ills that come with age, I have a feeling they will not let the high-cost, low-quality environment persist. They will not put up with their doctor prescribing Plavix at $175 a month, when they could be just as well off on aspirin. They will not put up with not knowing the price of a $1,700 MRI before they get it. They will not put up with not knowing what the local ER wait time is before they go.
    Maybe in a few years there will be a “Patient” booth at that exhibition hall.

  4. I guess that the recent increase in women who have “opted out” of the workforce explains the recent increase in productivity?
    Oh wait they didn’t opt out they were fired or left because we don’t have family friendly workplaces in this economy.
    This week, Congress issued a report, titled “Equality in Job Loss: Women are Increasingly Vulnerable to Layoffs During Recessions,” that may — if read in its entirety — finally, officially and definitively sound a death knell for the story of the Opt-Out Revolution. The report, commissioned by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, states categorically that mothers are not leaving the workforce to stay home with their kids. They’re being forced out.