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Health Reform: Summer Reading...Or Rhetoric

Posted Jul 29 2009 10:26pm

Unemployment is about to top 10%. The growing federal deficit is top-of-mind for every American. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, andconsumer credit card debt…all up. The nation is approaching $2.5 trillion in health care spending. Health insurance premiums are rising as benefits shrink. With every lost job the ranks of the uninsured swell; by some estimates 50 million people.

Across the country there’s consensus that the current health care system, albeit provider, payer, supplier, consumer or government, needs to be fixed. The balance between access, cost and quality is off kilter. Medicare and Medicaid spending levels are unsustainable. Payment and reimbursement schemes are misaligned, as are incentives for consumers to take advantage of preventive and wellness measures that promote a healthy lifestyle.

But, is this the right time for health reform? Do we have the political will to make it happen, the commitment to make it work, and the money to pay for it?

There’s a long history around changing the American health care system. Not too long ago a young actor-turned-politician joined forces with the nation’s medical establishment to address health reform.


Fast forward to another young, aggressive Presidential statesman with the idea that the time was right for health care reform. And, his chosen ambassador to advance the cause was the First Lady.

Health Reform

OK – that didn’t work so well. When the next administration took over, they successfully squeezed a prescription drug benefit into the Medicare program. However after that, the feeling was that our health care system was on solid ground (as was the rest of the economy), so why not leave well enough alone.


Now, along comes Obamacare. Stoked by campaign promises and personal drive to solve one of the nation’s most challenging problems, President Barack Obama is pushing hard to make health reform a reality in the first year of his administration.


Despite tough opposition from a fragmented Republican party looking for unity around making health reform Obama’s downfall (i.e., his Waterloo), pundits are predicting a signing ceremony before the New Year.

There are a lot of proposals and new terms floating around Washington―public plan, insurance exchange, Accountable Care Organization and benefit gateway. These and many other details are being debated as special interests line-up to negotiate their “policy positions” (aka: what’s in it for me ).In one of the most politically divisive environments the country has ever seen, have no doubt that the health and insurance reform controversy will intensify. Be prepared to follow the debate and anticipate how health reform will impact your business …because it will.

Following is a quick resource guide providing links to a variety of perspectives and insights on health reform –


President Obama’s Point of View – The President’s Message on Health Reform

Republican Perspective – Government Takeover of Healthcare

Democrat Perspective – It' s Time for Healthcare Reform


Kaiser Family Foundation – Health Reform Gateway

Urban Institute – Health Insurance Exchanges

Health Affairs – A Public Plan: Pros and Cons


Bob Laszewski – Health Care Policy and Marketplace

Matt Holt – The Healthcare Blog

Michael Miller – Health Policy and Communications


CNN Money – Health Reform FAQ

Wall Street Journal – Ten Questions on Health Care Overhaul

CNBC – Meeting of the Minds: The Future of Health Care


America' s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) – Campaign for an American Solution

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBSA) – Pathway to Covering America

Regence – What’s The Real Cost?

            Doctors – Paging Health Care Reform 

            Hospitals – Health For Life

            Pharma – Platform For A Healthy America

As you can see, there are a lot of opinions being put forth and just as many decisions that need to be made. For those of you heavily invested in the health care sector, professionally and personally, reform proposals point to an obvious theme – CHANGE. Over the next 12 to 24 months you will be pressed to rethink core business assumptions and reengineer products, services and operations. Tracking the reform debate will enable you to anticipate the timing of change, develop strategic “impact” scenarios, identify new opportunities, and help make informed decisions about future success and vulnerabilities. Stay tuned.



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