Health Reform Panel at Health Journalism 2008

Julie Appleby, USA Today, moderated this panel and asked each member to give a three-minute solution to health reform.

David Himmelstein, a promoter of single-payer government health insurance, is a primary care M.D. in Cambridge, Mass. He says we need to reform the insured as well as the uninsured. He says by spending what we currently spend on health care more wisely (31 percent for administration.) He says $80 billion insurance overhead would be eliminated.

Karen Davis from the Commonwealth Fund has five principles: Coverage for all, payment reform, a more organized health care system (a “medical home” that ensures access, not just coverage), narrowing the variation in quality and efficiency and bringing everyone to the highest level of quality, national leadership with the private and public sector working together.

Julie Barnes from the New America Foundation’s Health Policy Program has a mission to “preach hope and dispel fears.” She urged journalists to include solutions in their reporting. Their goals: cover all Americans, reduce costs and improve quality. She says these are inextricably linked. Covering everyone means we need to change how we pay doctors, paying not for quantity but quality. She says it can’t happen without bipartisan support, and that we need to encourage conversation.

Tom Miller from American Enterprise Institute says we need to introduce incentives that move us toward a sustainable, value-based health system. We need to encourage healthier behavior by consumers. More emphasis on primary prevention. He says he will “revise and extend his remarks” on the AEI web site.

The Davis/Commonwealth proposal sounds a lot like what the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center has been advocating. Many of the principles are similar.

Miller says the mismatch between what we spend and what we receive is the fundamental problem. We can’t tax ourselves enough to pay for a program when overall costs are increasing faster than the economy.

Miller and Himmelstein got into a discussion that was, at the very least, “spirited.” Julie Barnes got her wish for “conversation,” I guess.

Julie Appleby asked each of them to suggest story ideas for the assembled journalists. Their suggestions:

Continue reading “Health Reform Panel at Health Journalism 2008”

Mayo Clinic Health Reform Symposium

Waiting for the start

For the next two days, I will be live blogging the Mayo Clinic National Symposium on Health Care Reform, which is being held at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C.

If you’re interested in seeing the streaming video, you can watch it here. After the sessions, the archived video will be here. I will be having a comment thread open during each session, so you can comment on the proceedings as they are happening. Your questions for the panelists would be welcome, too. I think it would be fantastic if we could get some questions from the blog included in the live discussion.

We’ve worked really hard in our Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center to bring patient perspectives to the health reform discussion. Since all of the readers of this blog are health care consumers, I hope you’ll check out the health policy blog and chime in with your comments and questions.