How goes the food fight? Money, ideology and self interest may make healthcare worse, not better
Posted Jul 20 2009 10:42pm
By Ed Howe Last month I talked about how the players were lining up to divide the healthcare pie. The only agenda they really had was to be able to bring their own knives and forks to the dinner table.
Since then, The Washington Post reported that these players – the nation’s largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups – “have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues.” The Center for Responsive Politics reports pharma is spending $1.2 million every day on lobbying.
The news from Washington is disappointing. We have a chance to fix healthcare, to: • Encourage integrated delivery systems. • Bundle payments. • Provide universal coverage for basic healthcare and catastrophic care. • Allow individuals the freedom to use after-tax dollars to buy extra health services. • Use Social Security employer/employee payroll tax to fund basic levels. • Get employers out from managing their employee healthcare. • Structure the system so that everyone must pay something (or “free for me” will stimulate too much demand for care). • Let unions bargain for wages, not overly generous fringe benefits.
Will we look back to 2009 and say “too bad they got it wrong?” We need leadership, but so far as I see, there are no new “ profiles in courage ” stepping up – neither in the executive branch nor on the Hill. But it is not too late.