The NY Times describes the Republican-less lobbyist meetings with Democrats that are allegedly getting
towards a consensus on an individual mandate as the way to universal health care. Funnily enough some of those same groups (e.g. The Business Roundtable & the NFIB) appear to be lessening their commitment to the worthily named “Divided we Fail” campaign.
And then on the second page of the NY Times article there’s this:
Many businesses, crushed by soaring health costs, say they now support changes in the health care system as a way to control their costs. But in its summary of the recent discussions, Mr. Kennedy’s office said, “There was little consensus on the employers’ role.”
A bunch of random articles all hit at once on Wednesday morning. And they win the John Madden award for stating the bleedingly obvious. This is kind of a companion piece to my rant about Friday’s NY Times article on the health industry and its political allies and adversaries sitting down to come to consensus.
Inquiry featured a worthy study. It tried to suggest that high costs “crowd out” health insurance spending.
OK, perhaps not the only man of the month in the whole world, but Missy Krasner from Google Health, who is also a founder of the relatively new Disruptive Women in Health Care blog interviewed little ol’ me.
Welcome to Grand Rounds. It's been quite some time
since THCB hosted the medical blogosphere's major compendium. So sit
back and enjoy a stroll through the gardens of medical and health care
It's still a fresh political season, so we start with the wonks:
At TNR's The Treatment blog, Jonathan Cohn gets a top administration official to confirm
that health care will be a "central focus" of the budget proposal Obama
submits in a few weeks, signaling a major commitment to reform even
with Tom Daschle gone. He also runs down some possible successors to
Daschle and decides Howard Dean won't be the man, even though he'd do a great job.
Elsewhere on The Treatment, Harold Pollack says it's bad enough the U.S. opposes successful harm reduction strategies for drug addiction at home. Why do we have to use our clout to discourage other countries, too?
At Health Business Blog David Williams thinks that universal coverage
is a worthy goal, but says that if we get there by enrolling everyone in existing
public and private insurance schemes and maintaining existing levels of
utilization we’ll be doomed.
Jon thinks that Baseball Teaches Us (something) About Health Care Reform. Replace the star player with a bunch of utility infielders, and we’ll still win the pennant. Don’t worry Jon, Daschle isn’t the only one who came in with high hopes and didn’t make it through the week. So long Luiz Felipe!
But more importantly, unity (for the bailout) is a bust already, less than two full weeks into the Obama Administration with only 3 Republican Senators prepared to buck Rush Limbaugh, and then at a pretty big cost to the President and common sense. As Krugman pointed out today, bipartisanship is a crock, with the Republicans telling Obama to go whistle despite his bail-out package being less in total and way less in degree than a centrist Democrat would want. He left in all those tax cuts to please Republicans and they dissed it anyway.
So what would the Republicans do if serious health reform came up for discussion? I think I know! And if Obama starts with an already watered-down plan, it’ll just get more watered down.
Irrelevant small states with no people in them that exist by an accident of history are chronically over-represented in this country — both in the electoral college and most obviously in the Senate. And those states are much more conservative than metro areas where people actually live, which means that even if they send Democrats to DC, they’re not exactly raging Trotskyites.
Hence we get Max Baucus, representing less than 1 million people, or one-sixth of an average state’s population, pushing moderate reform and saying that single-payer is a political non-starter. He’s right, but it’s only because of the political structure that guarantees him his power. If San Francisco, which has roughly the same population as Montana, sent a Senator to Congress I think the result would be somewhat different.
When I read a headline like Privacy advocates hail stimulus bills I immediately wonder which privacy advocates. If it’s Deborah Peel I shudder, as her aim appears to be to shut down any system of electronic health data exchange. But if it’s Deven McGraw, from the Center for Democracy and Technology, I’m pretty encouraged as she (and her organization) seem to be taking the militant moderate path on privacy—putting patients in control of their data but encouraging the benefits of electronic records.
So I’m a little puzzled that they both like the privacy aspects of the stimulus package. Can someone who’s read the bill let us know what’s in there, and why they both like it while providers, payers and pharmacy chains hate it?
CODA: Of course who cares about the patients? Most importantly physicians’ privacy will now be safeguarded—even though it’s only their privacy about what we the taxpayer are giving them as contractors that Consumers Checkbook wanted to violate. I can just see Haliburton’s lawyers ready to cite this one.
Univita is a new play from a strong executive team led by former Anthem CEO Ben Lytle. Post Anthem, Lytle and his son Hugh founded Axia, a wellness company, and sold it to DM industry giant (albeit a small giant among dwarves), Healthways.
Now they’ve bought Enurgi which has established a platform for caregivers to manage in-home care over the web. (FD, Enurgi was founded by my friend Chiara Bell). Scraped straight from Univita’s website, here’s what they say they’re going to do:
Those of you paying attention for the past few days might have noticed on the one hand a sense of optimism and unity as Barrack H. Obama, somewhat somberly, began his presidency.
Meanwhile, over the past few weeks the fur has been flying among the electrons on THCB while some very knowledgeable and opinionated health care wonks and geeks have been battling it out about what exactly we should be doing in terms of federal health care IT spending.