Saturday, August 29, 2009
[Updated] Third Rail: Healthcare Costs
[Last updated 1:54 p.m.] In Nashville this morning, the Third Rail of Healthcare Reform: Cost symposium (site here) is well underway at the Schermerhorn. Early on, key speaker Gov. Phil Bredesen stressed the need for "a genuine national solution." Several speakers decried the lack of focus in the current national debate on the role of patients and importance of spending to achieve outcomes, rather than to protect the current system. Great speakers, and no way to do it all justice here...But: Abraxis CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong called for a nationwide information exchange to enable evidence-based medicine...he said similar efforts are underway in other nations, and America has chance to lead Health IT innovation. In reporting this billionaire's wealth, Forbes noted he has announced plans to donate $1 billion to found "the Bell Labs of healthcare." In response to a VNC question submitted online, Soon-Shiong commented that he is trying to put together a 10-state coalition to win ARRA funding to pilot the highway. Extraordinary tech tools are now available, he stressed, to both empower patients and provide timely scientific information to physicians. Some real tough love from former U.S. Comptroller David Walker, who reviewed the cold, hard facts of America's "credit card" mentality and the unfunded liabilities associated with $56.4 TRILLION in healthcare promises. RAND Health Associate Director Elizabeth McGlynn also had a fact-filled presentation, noting along the way that, among dozens of other factoids, it'd take an additional 16,000 surgeons to provide 47 million obese Americans the lapband or other digestive surgeries they need... and, that one effective strategy for reducing costs is to increase emphasis on retail clinics. She said RAND Health's COMPARE initiative will issue a report on retail clinics' roles, in the next few weeks. The program continues til 3:45 p.m. Central. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper said maybe a third of healthcare expenditures are wasteful. He focused on the crucial tax-preference issue and repeated his preference for the Healthy Americans Act (Wyden-Bennett), which he says is bipartisan and tackles the thorniest issues... HealthSpottr CEO Carleen Hawn said her group's new Healthspottr Fellows Program is largely underwritten by Nashville serial entrepreneur Charlie Martin, founder of Vanguard... The entire conference will be stream-archived on the event site.