Thursday, December 18, 2008

Health Care Reform: Wellness Programs and Prevention

As you may recall, I believe that one of the building blocks of health care reform should be wellness and prevention. (You will notice that the seven determinants of health lean heavily toward wellness, especially through education.)

If the U.S. is to provide health insurance for all, wellness and prevention aspects must be covered. This will assist us in keeping Americans out of our hospitals and Emergency Departments, the most expensive ways to deliver care.

You can read more about the building blocks of health care reform here.


Anonymous said...

I have been reading/watching your blogs about Healthcare reform. It is apparent to me there are great expectations from the Obama/Biden administration. I am wondering why? Why will the Obama administration succeed when so many before have failed? At the end of the day, the Washington political machine always wins (regardless of political affiliation). It is obvious to me a great deal of thoughtful effort has been placed behind the subject of healthcare reform. I pray it isn't a waste of time. We can all hope for change, but rarely has there ever been a politician with both willingness and ability.

I hope you aren't gambling your organization's future on the Obama/Biden administration's promises. It is always good to have a backup plan just in case a career politician's promises aren't kept.

Dr. Tom said...

Thank you for your comments! Obviously I believe this is a very important issue, one that deserves much discussion.

I do believe that the time is ripe for health care reform in the U.S. because of many contributing factors in our country. Some of these include:

1. More constituencies are focused on health care reform today than in the Clinton era. Because of this, there is actually a much more united voice among patients, their families, insurance companies, the government, physicians, physician extenders and hospitals. Because this voice is more unified, it is therefore much stronger and has a greater chance of garnering attention and inspiring action.

2. In the 10 years or so since the Clinton administration tried to enact health care reform, significant deterioration has occurred in health care reimbursement. This makes reform much more urgent for health care providers, and the amount of attention paid to Medicare issues and funding by the legislature in recent years demonstrates its necessity for multiple parties.

3. The amount of money that can be reallocated to health care has recently been significantly minimized because of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of course now have only increasingly magnified because of the global economic crisis.

4. The number of uninsured Americans has significantly increased over the last decade, now reaching heights of 48 million people. This includes a significant number of uninsured children as well, and the American consciousness is increasingly focused toward this fact and resolving this issue.

I believe this is why the Obama/Biden team has put this into their agenda more aggressively than they may have previously. The difference between the most recent campaign season and prior elections is that health care reform was consistently one of the top agenda items, even in the primary races. As a result, the issue received much more public commitment and aroused more notoriety than in the past.

In addition there are certain senators/representatives who have health care reform as their primary agenda item, including, Sen. Edward Kennedy.

So all of those issues are important contributing factors to why we believe that there is a greater chance for health care reform in the U.S. than ever before. And since the Obama/Biden camp has made an effort to focus on and talk about this issue so fervently, we want to make sure we are in on the discussion and especially have the chance to participate in the redesign if possible.

However, we aren’t depending on health care reform coming from the Obama administration. We realize that health care is significantly reimbursed by state and federal governments through Medicare and Medicaid and are well aware of the cumbersome nature of the political process as well as the unpredictability of government actions. For CHRISTUS and other health care systems, the best path is to proceed as if nothing will occur and do whatever is necessary to have a strong, sustainable ministry at this time, taking into consideration all of the effects of the economy, etc.

Therefore, if health care reform does not become a reality, it will only make those surviving health care systems and providers stronger. Until then, those of us who are able must influence this process by sharing the pieces of the puzzle that we think will work, and I am more optimistic today than in the past that it will because of reasons I outlined above.