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A traditional media outlet is taking the lead on examining health care reform

The venerable Washington Post has brought together an impressive group of health and health care observers to share their perspectives on how health care reform is playing out in D.C. The Health Care Rx series will include weekly commentaries from a diverse list of panelistsAccording to Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, the voice behind Health Populi and one of the panelists, every stakeholder group in health care is represented on the panel.  "Central is the consumer-citizen health angle, as well as technology, provider, pharma, physician, payer-employer, and policymaker."

The first question presented to the group was, "What should Congress tackle first?"  Sarasohn-Kahn notes that her reply basically said, "Attack chronic conditions through info-tainment."  Others tackled waste, aligning payment with performance, universal coverage, equity, and cost containment.  This week, the panel will be reacting to President Obama's speech on health care reform that he delivered to the American Medical Association on June 15.

Sounds like the Post will be a "must read" for a variety of opinions on health care reform in the coming weeks and months.


Health CEOs for Health Reform

Health CEOs for Health Reform (HC4HR) recently released a report entitled, Realigning U.S. Health Care Incentives to Better Serve Patients and Taxpayers. HC4HR is part of the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation. Its members include the CEOs of Group Health Cooperative; Blue Shield of California; Catholic Healthcare West; Global Human Health, Merck & Co. Inc.; Ascension Health; and several health care providers.

According to the Health Policy Program website, three principle guide the members of HC4HR:

  1. Health reform is an urgent priority for our nation and should not be postponed.
  2. Meaningful health reform entails both quality, affordable health coverage for all and delivery system reform. This will require all stakeholders to move away from "business as usual."
  3. A more sustainable health system will require all health care stakeholders to offer and accept changes to their business models as part of a catalytic package that will better serve everyone.

I am particularly intrigued by how principle #3 will play out over time.

The report contains detailed recommendations for moving away from
fee-for-service medicine and refocusing health care delivery on the
patient.  One of the recommendations included is "Implement bundled payment structures," which sounds an awful lot like one of the forecasts we presented at our recent Health and Health Care 2020 Conference.

The report summary offers: 

Molecular sociology: when lab research intersects with health care reform

Yesterday, I blogged about a concept in physiology known as allostatic load, and noted that the term was coined by neuroendocronologist Bruce McEwen.  According to a press release from the Rockefeller University, McEwen likes to describe himself as a "molecular sociologist," because his lab work at the university—on the impact of stress on the brain—has led him to think about how "the social environment that people are in will affect the structure and function of their brains."

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