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The Oncoming Diabetes Tidal Wave

November 30, 2009
4:21 pm

Today, members of Congress are agonizing over legislative language and Congressional Budget Office reports, trying to find the right mixture of programs and policies to make a dent in future healthcare spending growth.

If a new study from the University of Chicago is correct, much of this work will be akin to building barriers from sand to try to prevent a tidal wave rapidly encroaching upon land. 

Researchers at the university project that the number of people afflicted with diabetes will approximately double in the next 25 years, climbing from the current 23.7 million to over 44 million patients by 2034.  In Medicare spending alone, that means treatment costs for diabetes will more than triple, from $45 billion today to $171 billion in 25 years.  As the study’s lead author states, if this course doesn’t change, “we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population.”  He also said our future could easily turn out worse than the University of Chicago’s predictions. Read more

Women in Technology

November 25, 2009
11:44 am

dsc02976Last week HLC participated in the Women in Technology roundtable event which gave their members an overview about the role of technology in health reform as it relates to electronic medical records, care management, and identity.

NextGenWeb blogger Shana Glickfield had this to say about the event:

“Women in Technology hosted a roundtable event to give their members a closer look at how healthcare policy intersects with technology.  The presentations dove into where our government is heading when it comes to Health IT.  Particularly when it comes to Electronic Health Records, the speakers focused on the recent progress in moving these life- (and money-) saving technologies forward.

Tina O. Grande, SVP for Policy at the Healthcare Leadership Council, noted that electronic health records were actually part of the economic stimulus bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).  The bill provides many deadlines, standards and incentives.  They include Medicare bonus payments to eligible physicians and hospitals using electronic health records as soon as 2011.”

HLC believes the nationwide use of health information technology, including the development of uniform standards for information-sharing and a national patient privacy standard will create quality improvements and greater patient safety.  I would like to thank Shana for highlighting our efforts on health information technology.

Deceptive Momentum

November 23, 2009
9:22 am

There was a great deal of hoopla Saturday night over the Senate Democratic leadership’s success in gaining the minimum 60 votes necessary to bring health reform legislation to the floor to begin debate after the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s perhaps a story in itself that there was so much drama over a procedural vote simply to allow debate on the President’s signature policy issue.

Despite Saturday’s successful vote, the road to health reform enactment seems more fraught with potholes than ever.  The Capitol Hill newspaper, Politico, has a good summary story today on the current state of play, headlined, “How Health Reform Could Fall Apart.”  Sunday’s news shows and interviews undermined any supposed momentum that was claimed on Saturday.  Centrist senators made it clear that they will not vote for a bill that includes the current public option language.  Senators on the left, like Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), said Sunday that they’ve compromised on the issue as much as they’re going to.

Adding to the difficulty of the task at hand, Rasmussen polling shows, for the first time, public support for Democratic health reform plans has dropped below 40%.  Only 38% support the current legislation compared to 56% opposed. Read more

Health Reform Odds and Ends

November 19, 2009
3:14 pm

Health Reform Odds, Ends and Random Thoughts

•      I wouldn’t have thought it possible to draft a health reform bill larger than the House’s 1,990 pages, but the Senate weighed in at 2,074.

•      Before lawmakers proceed much farther on health reform legislation, they should make it a point to read the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey S. Flier.  Flier writes, “Those of us for whom the central issue is health – not politics – have been left in the lurch…speeches and news reports can lead you to believe that proposed congressional legislation would tackle the problems of cost, access and quality.  But that’s not true.”

Dr. Flier points out in his Journal piece that current health reform legislation does nothing to address “a regulatory morass (that) limits innovation” or “deep flaws in Medicare and Medicaid (that) drive spending without optimizing care.” Read more

Hit A Reset Button on Healthcare Reform

November 18, 2009
4:38 pm

I would like to thank the StandardNet for publishing my op-ed piece on the need to reset the current health reform debate in order to win back the public’s confidence.