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New Evidence on the Importance of Prevention

July 31, 2009
10:24 am

healthways2There has been an ongoing frustration in health policy debates over the importance of disease prevention and chronic care management.  It’s one of those cases in which everyone knows something intuitively but encounters difficulty putting evidence on paper.  It makes perfect sense that taking steps to prevent and better manage chronic illness – which accounts for 75 cents of every health care dollar – can generate savings in the long run, but how do you assign an actual savings amount to better health promotion?

There is new evidence in this arena that deserves careful consideration by health policymakers.  This week, the Center for Health Research at Healthways, Inc. released a report, Potential Medicare Savings Through Prevention and Health Risk Reduction.  This is the first-ever analysis based on actuarial science that quantifies he financial impact of better health prevention in the Medicare fee-for-service population. Read more

From the Windy City…

July 28, 2009
2:14 pm

I’m very pleased that the Chicago Sun-Times published my op-ed piece that points out how many of the important components of healthcare reform currently have bipartisan support and we shouldn’t squander this opportunity because of conflict over a controversial, and unnecessary proposal like the government-run health plan.

Good News (but not that good) on Childhood Obesity

July 24, 2009
4:44 pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday that childhood obesity rates have stopped increasing and have essentially leveled off over the past five years.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that those rates have leveled off at a plateau that is still too high.  As the CDC report points out, childhood obesity remains a serious public health problem in the United States.  One in every seven preschool children from low-income households is obese.  These millions of children are vulnerable to a host of serious health issues.

This is a severely overlooked aspect of health reform.  For all that Congress can do in reforming the health insurance system and finding new mechanisms to control healthcare costs, we can’t forget that chronic disease accounts for 75 cents of every healthcare dollar we spend and much of this spending is directly related to societal challenges such as smoking, obesity and exercise. Read more

My Way or the Highway

July 16, 2009
11:35 am

Those of us who were around during the contentious debates over President Clinton’s health reform proposal recall all too well why the White House was unsuccessful in getting reform passed.  Even though Congress reached out to propose compromises and alternative ideas, the Administration refused to accept anything but its own plan.  In the end, Congress decided that achieving nothing was better than passing severely flawed legislation.

Policymakers need to take great care not to go down that same road this time around.  And, based upon current rhetoric, there is reason for concern.

Yesterday, when the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee passed its version of reform legislation, one senator said that opponents of the bill were obviously against universal healthcare.   Earlier in the day, one leading policymaker said that those who opposed the current bills emerging from the House leadership and the Senate HELP Committee were “defending the status quo.”

That’s simply not the case. Read more

HLC Members Urge Middle Ground on Health Reform

July 14, 2009
3:41 pm

hlclogo981Over 40 of the nation’s leading health care companies and organizations told congressional leaders today that health reform will not be successful if its “politically polarizing” and wears “the label of either ideological extreme.”

I’m very pleased that the members of the Healthcare Leadership Council, executives from leading hospitals, health plans, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, academic health centers, health distributors and other for-profit and not-for-profit sectors today reaffirmed their commitment to health reform in a letter to Senate and House leaders. Read more