The O.K. Corral It’s Not

October 14, 2009
3:55 pm

Hollywood movie producers love what are known as “high concept” film ideas.  These are plotlines that are so simple – “aliens invade Earth”, “teenage vampires take on mortals” – they can be summarized in a single line.

The news media also likes “high concept” and tries to apply it whenever it can, even when complex issues are involved.  We’re seeing that right now in the ongoing health reform deliberations.  When America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) issued a PricewaterhouseCoopers study this weekend showing that family health insurance premiums would rise if the Senate Finance Committee bill becomes law, stories began to emerge immediately about a clenched-fist showdown between insurers and the Obama White House/congressional Democrats.

It would be a compelling storyline if it were true, but the reality is that multiple health sectors have qualms with different aspects of health reform legislation and are working diligently to improve the final product.

•       Witness various hospital leaders pointing out that the watered-down individual mandate provisions in the Finance bill will still leave too many Americans without health insurance.

•       Witness the nation’s medical device manufacturers making the case that the bill’s excise tax provisions could have a severe impact on healthcare innovation and place the United States at a competitive disadvantage to its global counterparts.

•       Witness healthcare leaders like Delos Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, telling the media that the developing health reform bills don’t do enough in the arenas of payment and delivery reform.

It’s a sexy story to think of the insurance lobby and the Congress having a duel at sunrise, but the fact is this isn’t a one-on-one contest.  The health reform bills making their way through Capitol Hill need improving, and it’s not just the health insurers saying so.

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