Category: Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site and hosts the #THCBGang and #HealthInTwoPoint00 video shows/podcasts. He was co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference and now also does advisory work mostly for health tech startups at his consulting firm

Why Hillarycare failed…and what we need to learn from that failure


In July 2005 George W Bush had relatively recently won a Presidential election in which the Republican won the popular vote (something that will likely never happen again) & the Republicans controlled all three branches of Government. Those of us liberals at the bottom of a dark trench were wondering if and how we’d get to health reform. So in another reprint to celebrate THCB’s 15th birthday, here was my then take on what went wrong in 1994 and what would happen next–Matthew Holt     

There are lots of versions about what killed the 1993-4 health care reform effort.  Hillary Clinton has now decided that the problem was the lack of incrementalism in her plan.  Last week the New York Times said that since becoming a Senator:

“She has deliberately avoided the major mistake she made as first lady, namely trying to sell an ambitious plan to a public with no appetite for radical change. <SNIP>. She summed up her approach in the first floor speech she delivered in the Senate about four years ago, when she unveiled a series of relatively modest health care initiatives. “I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done,” she said, referring to the 1994 defeat of her health care plan.”

On the other hand, some people are still claiming victory for the plan’s defeat even if they were at most modest bit players.  Here’s what one fawning bio says about former New York Lt Governor Betsy McCaughey

“A 35-year-old senior fellow named Elizabeth McCaughey…wrote an article for The New Republic on what she discovered in a close reading of the 1,431-page document containing the Clinton Health Care Plan: Namely, that it would put every citizen in a single government-operated HMO. That one article shot down the entire blimp, and Betsy McCaughey became a 35-year-old Cinderella. One of the richest men in America chose her as his wife, and George Pataki made her lieutenant governor of New York.”

Ignoring the fact that McCaughey spent her time thereafter putting poor New Yorkers into those HMOs she so despised, and then went off the deep end en route to divorce from Pataki, the rich guy, and reality (not necessarily in that order), it’s not really true that one article in The New Republic can be quite that influential. (Sorry Jon!).  Even if the overly geeky Clintonistas in the White House did feel that they had to come out with a point by point rebuttal. And anyway, the article only came out in January 1994 by which time the die was more or less cast the other way. Again we have to look elsewhere for the explanation.

If you want to go back and spend a few minutes wallowing in the era of trial balloons and secret task forces, there’s a very interesting time line of the whole process on the NPR website, as well as a briefer information over at the Clinton Health Plan Wikipedia site.Continue reading…

SMACK.Health–Getting Clear on the Concept

I’m going to be announcing some big changes on THCB and with my overall services in the next little bit. So to prepare for this, here’s a rather good explanation I did last year in Australia of what I mean by — randomly the interviewer was Jessica DaMassa with whom I now do #Healthin2pt00 — Matthew Holt

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 8

It’s the end of #HIMSS18 where Jessica DaMassa asks me the end of term questions, while the exhibit hall is being torn down around us. We’ll be back to our weekly schedule next week–Matthew Holt

Health in 2 point 00, Episode 7

More from HIMSS18, it’s episode 7 in which I  get to give a shout out to UPMC, OneView HealthCare, Echo Ventures, & GE Ventures who funded patient travel to HIMSS via the Society for Participatory Medicine. And to HIMSS itself which for the first time let patients in for free. Jessica DaMassa asking the questions and thanks to @HealthTechDan from Digital Health Today for running the camera–Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt’s EOY 2017 letter (charities/issues/gossip)

Right at the end of every year I write a letter summarizing my issues and charities. And as I own the joint here, I post it on THCB! Please take a look–Matthew Holt

Well 2017 has been quite a year, and last year 2016 I failed to get my end-of-year letter out at all. This I would like to think was due to extreme business but it probably came down to me being totally lazy. On the other hand like many of you I may have just been depressed about the election–2016 was summed up by our cat vomiting on our bed at 11.55 on New Years Eve.

Having said that even though most of you will never comment on this letter and I mostly write it to myself, I have had a few people ask me whether it is coming out this year–so here it goes.

2017 was a big year especially for my business Health 2.0. After 10 years my partner Indu Subaiya and I sold it to HIMSS–the biggest Health IT trade association and conference. And although I used to make fun of HIMSS for being a little bit staid and mainstream, when it came to finding the right partner to take over Health 2.0’s mantel for driving innovation in health technology, they were the ones who stepped up most seriously. From now on the Health 2.0 conferences are part of the HIMSS organization, and Indu is now an Executive Vice President at HIMSS. I’ll still be very involved as chair of the conferences and going to all of them but will (hooray!) be doing a lot less back office & operational work. (Those of you in the weeds might want to know that we are keeping the Health 2.0 Catalyst division for now at least)

That does mean that next year I will have a bit more time to do some new things. I haven’t quite figured out what they are yet but they will include a reboot of (my role at least) on The Health Care Blog and possibly finally getting that book out of the archives into print. But if you have any ideas for me (and I do mean constructive ideas, not just the usual insults!) then please get in touch. You can of course follow me on Twitter (@boltyboy) to see what I’m thinking with only modest filtering!Continue reading…

Welcome to Healthcare IT Live!

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This time the camera was turned on THCB’s Matthew Holt. Tim Cook of Healthcare IT Live! interviewed Matthew for the web show, which takes place weekly on Google+ Hangouts. Click for a list of the show’s upcoming guests.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas

It seems that I just got back from Vegas and CES although I had 3 weeks in India & Hong Kong in between. But in a few minutes I’ll be off there again as this time HIMSS brings its modest 40,000 attendees to Vegas. (When I say modest, CES had 200K!) THCB and Health 2.0 News will be there in force with me, Laura Montini & Jennifer Lee looking dangerous with our flip cams, while Health 2.0ers Marco Smit, JL Neptune & Pat Ryan will be working with AT&T, ONC, Novartis and other clients. And to those of you following on Twitter, the red satin jacket was the winner in the poll for what I’ll be wearing as fashion judge at HISTalkpalooza (and afterwards Regina Holliday will paint it!). So expect lots of video interviews on THCB and Health 2.0 News in the next days and weeks, and wish us luck as we descend into miles of walking all fueled by too much alcohol and too little sleep!

Another nail in the DM coffin?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water, the CBO is out with the bad news that in its analysis of over 30 disease management programs, and none of the independently run ones saved Medicare any money. Even the ones that succeeded, which put the medical groups at risk and generally lodged the DM nurses with them (rather than have them call in on the phone), didn’t save enough to justify the costs of the program.

Now the first group isn’t a surprise to those of us who followed the fate of Medicare Health Support. The second group includes a series of demonstrations paying physician groups to save money. They did better, but not well enough to save once the extra costs of the program are included. (Details here). We can only hope that using more lightweight technologies with better understanding of patient behavior does in fact end up saving money–as has been shown in some commercial medical home settings. But we must also be prepared to admit that we don’t yet know how to save money in the care of the chronically ill under Medicare. Which means that the only obvious way to do it is to cut payments to providers!

Progress made by ONC (Really!)

ONC Director Farzad Mostashari is out with his review of 2011 on a month by month basis. Good to see that Farzad & colleagues took December 2011 off (just kidding!). He calls it a year of “momentous” progress. I’m doubly biased because I’m a proponent of newer and better health technology for clinicians AND citizens. Also, (FD) Health 2.0 is the main subcontractor on the i2 Investing in Innovation challenges which were–as noted by Farzad–launched in June, have had several close already, and will continue to roll off the production line for another 18 months. But as a general and occasionally cynical observer I’m very impressed with what ONC has done. Continue reading…