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Category: Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site. He is also the co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference, as well as a Founding Principal of the associated consulting firm Health 2.0 Advisors.

As I’ve always suspected, Health Care = Communism + Frappuccinos

By MATTHEW HOLT

Happy 15th birthday THCB! Yes, 15 years ago today this little blog opened for business and changed my life (and at least impacted a few others). Later this week we are going to celebrate and tell you a bit more about what the next 15 years (really?) of THCB might look like. But for now, I’m rerunning a few of my favorite pieces from the mid-2000s, the golden age of blogging. Today I present “Health Care = Communism + Frappuccinos”, one of my favorites about the relationship between government and private sector originally published here on Jan7, 2005. And like the Medicare one from last week, it sure holds true today. Matthew Holt

Those of you who think I’m an unreconstructed commie will correctly suspect that I’ve always discussed Marxism in my health care talks. You’d be amazed at how many audiences of hospital administrators in the mid-west know nothing about the integral essentials of Marx’s theory of history. And I really enjoy bring the light to them, especially when I manage to reference Mongolia 1919, managed care and Communism in the same bullet point.

While I’ve always been very proud of that one (err.. maybe you have to be there, but you could always hire me to come tell it!), even if I am jesting, there’s a really loose use of the concept of Marxism in this 2005 piece (reprinted in 2009) called A Prescription for Marxism in Foreign Policy from (apparently) libertarian-leaning Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff. He opens with this little nugget:

“Karl Marx may have suffered a second death at the end of the last century, but look for a spirited comeback in this one. The next great battle between socialism and capitalism will be waged over human health and life expectancy. As rich countries grow richer, and as healthcare technology continues to improve, people will spend ever growing shares of their income on living longer and healthier lives.”

Actually he’s right that there will be a backlash against the (allegedly) market-based capitalism — which has actually been closer to all-out mercantilist booty capitalism — that we’re seen over the last couple of decades. History tends to be reactive and societies go through long periods of reaction to what’s been seen before. In fact the 1980-20?? (10-15?) period of “conservatism” is a reaction to the 1930-1980 period of social corporatism seen in most of the western world. And any period in which the inequality of wealth and income in one society continues to grow at the current rate will eventually invite a reaction–you can ask Louis XVI of France about that.

But when Rogoff is talking about Marxism in health care what he really means is that, because health care by definition will consume more and more of our societal resources, the arguments about the creation and distribution of health care products and services will look more like the arguments seen in the debates about how the government used to allocate resources for “guns versus butter” in the 1950s. These days we are supposed to believe that government blindly accepts letting “the market” rule, even if for vast sways of the economy the government clearly rules the market, which in turn means that those corporations with political influence set the rules and the budgets (quick now, it begins with an H…). Continue reading…

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 42

As I’m back from a week’s vacation, Jessica DaMassa is slowly pulling me back into the groove with questions about Walmart dumping Castlight, yet more money for telemedicine with MDLive adding $50m, and get.health sponsoring a few tickets to health2con. All in 2 minutes, with a bit of filler!–Matthew Holt

 

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 41

After the longwinded-ness of last episode, Jessica DaMassa runs a tight ship today. Lantern’s demise, GSK & 23andme’s huge deal, yet another big chunk of change for American Well, and what was going on at #GoogleNext18 with Google Cloud in health –all asked by Jessica and answered by me, in under the 2 minute wire–Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 40

In this episode Jessica DaMassa asks about the thunder from Down Under, well the noise about the My Health Record program in Australia, the latest on women in health IT from Rock Health, and nearly gets to Click Therapeutics $17m round…all under the watchful gaze of Buddha–Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00 — Episode 39

Jessica DaMassa decides the the way to deal with mourning Croatia’s loss in the World Cup Final is to make you suffer through my explanation of what’s wrong with the Trump Administration’s decision to screw over health plans and destabilize the exchanges. Oh and Higi gets a mention too — Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 38

Somewhere in this long and rambling in-mourning edition of #HealthIn2Point00 Jessica DaMassa gets past my depression about England’s World Cup semi-final exit & asks me about NuRx’s funding round, and Verily’s move into sleep. But it’s mostly soccer depression! — Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 37

Jessica DaMassa asks me about the American Well mega funding round, Cerner investing in Lumeris, and the new NHS England app. Which naturally descends into a conversation about England’s chances in the world cup semi-final tomorrow!–Matthew Holt

Health in 2 point 00, Episode 36

Back in the US of A to celebrate the nation’s birthday, Jessica DaMassa asks about Amazon buying Pill Pack, GE spinning off its health division, and what Rock Health and Startup Health’s numbers say about health tech investment–Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 34

I’m back. After the takeover editions, I’m answering Jessica DaMassa about Atul Gawande as the CEO of the ABC new venture, the demise of Caresync, Ooda Health and its demand for a female VC, and whole bunch more blather! — Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 31

Jessica DaMassa asks me about PlugandPlay’s health day, people talking to bots in health care, the rumors of Softbank dropping a wad of cash on Science37, and we can’t resist some Thernos cracks. This one also has pictures! Sadly the video somehow got corrupted so it’s not your eyes, we are looking like green martians! — Matthew Holt

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