Friday, April 27, 2007

Dems Emphasize Cost Control and Prevention in Debate

While the first democratic presidential debate last night correctly focused on the war in Iraq, in the middle of the forum, some leading candidates had an opportunity to put forth some ideas about health care reform. Here is the transcript of the debate in case you missed it.

All 4 candidates who had a chance to speak on Health Care emphasized cost control and prevention!

John Edwards,who to his credit,set the mark on health care reform by releasing a detailed plan a few months ago, also spoke about one of my favorite topics-mental health parity-undoubted a re-energized issue after the tragedy at Virgina Tech on Monday a week ago.I wrote about mental health parity last year on this blog -see Tues.April 4, 2006

Barack Obama said straight out and forthright " The second thing,I think,that we're going to have to do is make sure that we control costs" since he notes in U.S. we spend much more and get less!

Hillary Clinton said "we have to control and decrease costs for everyone... We have to cover everybody but we've got to improve quality...We can save money within the existing system. I am not ready to put new money into a system that doesn't work until we've tried to figure out how to get the best outcome through the money we already have" said Hillary- not being afraid to harken back to 93/94 when the insurance companies and pharmmaceutical companies made the american public "nervous" about her and Bill Clinton's plan.

Bill"no new taxes for health care" Richardson said flat out "I would focus on prevention... We need to focus more on deterring these diseases like diabetes that is 30 percent of our Medicare cost"

Now mind-you the phrase "cost-control" scares people because they automatically believe that means less care. It does not! We are at a point on the U.S. bio-medical technology curve where more is not always better! It actually might be harmful. Cost control can mean better-"first do no harm"-care and prevention.

Yet we have the paradox of some segments of our population getting no to minimal basic care? These fellow citizens need basic care now!

The demographic destiny of 77 million U.S. baby boomers beginning to utilize a high tech expensive economically unsustainable "disease care" system and gobbling up more and more expensive medications, many of which are unsafe, is indeed a freightening economic prospect. The head of the U.S. GAO Comptroller General David Walker calls it an "economic tsunami" - especially his Medicare cost projections.

I personally support a modified HR 676 - The Conyers/Kucinich, single payer- "Medicare for all" bill.But not in its present form. The bill must be modified to include a hefty dose of both individual AND institutional prevention! The prevention strategies must be implemented with fairness and compassion

Good for the Dems last night. Some of the leading candidates got it right on Health Care Reform- the domestic issue that could very well elect one of them to the U.S. presidency in November of 2008.

Dr. Rick Lippin

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Washington's Dirty (not little) Big Health Care Reform Secret

On Sunday March 4th 60 MINUTES Steve Kroft interviewed the Comptroller General of the United States -head of the U.S Government Accounting Office (GAO)-David Walker.. Appointed by former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Walker is now on a nationwide crusade to save the nation from what he calls a "fiscal tsunami".

Now mind you accountants by temperament are intelligent,sober people not prone to excesses of emotional rhetoric but if you heard Mr. Walker's interview you need to be scared into action.

This is the man with the data and he did not mince words-How refreshing from within the Federal Government!

"I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility," Walker told Steve Kroft of 60 MINUTES

We suffer from a fiscal cancer. It is growing within us. And if we do not treat it, it could have catastrophic consequences for our country," Walker stated.

The cancer, Walker says, are massive entitlement programs we can no longer afford, exacerbated by a demographic glitch that began more than 60 years ago-- a dramatic spike in the fertility rate called the "baby boom."

To illustrate their impact, he uses a power point presentation as he travels around the country with his "fiscal wake up tour" to show what would happen in 30 years if the U.S. maintains its current course and fulfills all of the promises politicians have made to the public on things like Social Security and Medicare.

...the real problem is health-care costs. Our health care problem is much more significant than Social Security," he says. By that I mean that the Medicare problem is five times greater than the Social Security problem.The prescription drug bill was probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s," Walker argues.

This is no wild eyed zealot says CBS News.Yet some say he is a chicken-little overstating the magnitude of the problem.

I do not have the data that Comptroller General Walker has access to, nor do I have his accounting skills, but to me he is performing a great public service by sounding his alarms now. He is demonstrating a rare quality among Washington heads of federal agencies and even more rare among Washington politicians-namely backbone!

I know a bit about health-care economics and to me his message is a legitimate plea for fundamental and dramatic health care reform and what I call compassionate,fair and ethical, yet nevertheless, significant and yes painful,costs reductions.

Tough choices ahead - That's for sure. But not facing them is the worst choice we could possibly make

Dr. Rick Lippin