Perhaps Newt Gingrich’s book Saving Lives & Saving Money has been quietly redacted of a few lines since its original 2003 printing, because otherwise a simple read of the copies now in circulation would find a blueprint for Obamacare just like the first printing did. I dusted off my old, autographed, copy and re-read it, and am providing some highlights for THCB readers.
Much of the book does propose market-based solutions, such as the use of disease management programs to “dramatically improve outcomes.” However, the book also calls for bigger government, in the form of (1) drug coverage for seniors (since passed) and (2) a “tripling” of the National Science Foundation budget.
In addition to those two specific calls for increased government spending, the first printing contains language that might comfort Don Berwick more than Fox News, and not just because Dr. Berwick gets favorably mentioned twice.
P. 31: “The number of uninsured in America is a threat to our civilization.”
P. 54 “Don Berwick[has] pioneered the translation of the teachings of quality experts such as Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran to the healthcare profession.”
P 59 “It is justified to mandate the use of electronic systems to drag the medical system into the 21st century.”
P 82 “People…should be able to buy insurance through a pool or association,” and “individuals and small businesses should be able to buy insurance under the same rules as big businesses.”
P 201 “Medicare must be strengthened to include a focus on outcomes-based healthcare.”
OK, so let’s summarize these quotes: We need to solve the problem of the uninsured in order to save “civilization,” listen to Don Berwick, mandate electronic medical records, make insurance available for individuals and small businesses under the same rules as big business (basically what we now call an “exchange”), and strengthen Medicare’s outcomes focus. Throw in Gingrich’s earlier support for the individual mandate and the result is pretty much the framework for the Accountable Care Act.
Not just the ACA, but also Michelle Obama’s pet project, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2011:
P. 53,58, 69, 158 “The goal of 21st-century healthcare is to keep the individual healthy, so that he or she does not have to become a patient…,with a greater emphasis…on nutrition. Obesity among children is growing and is labeled by the CDC as an epidemic…. [We need] Better choices in school vending machines…and lunchrooms. ”
Unlike the calls for increased government interventions above, in the case of obesity, Gingrich never specifically says that the government should provide the solution via new regulations. Perhaps he thinks the problems will be solved by the free market, let by well-respected free market nutritionist leaders such as Paula Deen.
Al Lewis, called “the country’s leading outcomes measurement guru” in the 9th Annual Report on the Disease Management and Wellness Industries, is president of the Disease Management Purchasing Consortium, www.dismgmt.com. He was founder and first president of the Care Continuum Alliance. An excerpt from his forthcoming book Why Nobody Believes the Numbers: The Outcomes Measurement Guide for Grown-Ups may be downloaded here.