Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker of the House

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is the founder of the Center for Health Transformation and former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Across the Country, Some Systems Are Getting It Right

One of the biggest components missing in the current health debate is health. We must ensure that health is always the driving focus of any reform effort. We at the Center for Health Transformation call this "health-based health reform." To accomplish this, we must determine what is actually working today to save lives and save money and then design public policy to encourage widespread adoption. We need to make best practice the minimum practice. Two examples:

More than 20 percent of all Medicare spending occurs in the last two months of life. Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin has developed a successful end-of-life, best practice that combines: 1) community-wide advance care planning, where 90 percent of patients have advance directives; 2) hospice and palliative care; and 3) coordination of services through an electronic medical record. The Gundersen approach empowers patients and families to control and direct their care. The Dartmouth Health Atlas has documented that Gundersen delivers care at a 30 percent lower rate than the national average ($18,359 versus $25,860). If Gundersen's approach was used to care for the approximately 4.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who die every year, Medicare could save more than $33 billion a year.

Another example. If the 5,500 hospitals in the country provided care at the level of Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Medicare alone would save 32 percent of total spending every year -- with better health outcomes, according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare.

I give President Obama high marks for his recent letter to Sens. Max Baucus and Edward M. Kennedy which noted that health reform must entail more than insurance coverage. He stressed the importance of finding what works and then creating incentives for its widespread adoption. What he needs to do is put specific policies behind his words.

We propose creating a private-sector led best-practice initiative that educates the industry on documented practices that work. This initiative should support the development and diffusion of knowledge for the purposes of expanding care, improving outcomes, and lowering costs -- with the explicit prohibition that government cannot use the data to ration care. Government health programs should reward organizations that adopt these best practices through higher reimbursements.

Migrating everyone to what works will truly transform the delivery of care.

By Newt Gingrich  |  July 2, 2009; 12:12 PM ET  | Category:  Health Care Reform Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Innovation, Timeliness, Choice, Quality | Next: The View from the Lake


Please report offensive comments below.

It amazes me how the solutions being proposed to fix this problem are arguably more of what caused the problem in the first place. If we want to truly fix health care, we should review the changes that the government has made in the industry over the past 60 years, undo the mistakes, and start from scratch with a focus on placing the power of choice and cost directly into the hands of the patient. The cause of skyrocketing health care costs is insurance itself (among other things).

Posted by: VIPR1AB | July 9, 2009 8:04 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Would all of you socialists just do yourself a favor and move to Europe where life is wonderful and health care superior. Please, please leave the rest of us to our miserable American health care. Thank you.

Posted by: steviemick | July 7, 2009 7:26 PM
Report Offensive Comment

We have had private sector insurance and over-sight that has not reduced costs ever since the introduction of HMO's during the Nixon Administration. I'm sorry Newt, the time has come to add a competitive Federally based insurance program as an option for those who currently do not have insurance, and those who wish to opt out of the higher administrative costs that private medical insurance entails. The only people who have benefited from "for profit" health care has been the owners/stockholders and executives of these insurance companies and the pharmaceutical sector, and the AMA. Health care is a fundamental Right of the American people to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that costs are kept in check, and to prevent the incredible greed and avarice that exists in the current corrupt insurance system. It would serve the public better if you, Newt, would not pontificate on subjects that you, as an elitist member of society cannot represent the interests of the average American. You have shown no empathy and compassion in your political career, and certainly not in your private life to boot. It is time for you to retire out to the pastures with the old grey mules.

Posted by: kerryberger | July 6, 2009 4:50 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Newt Gin-grinch is the LAST person in the world I would take advice from. Hopefully President Obama feels the same.

His proposition that the best health care outcomes can only come from the private sector are demonstrably false. If that were true, would we even be discussing this?

All the private corporations give us is the MOST PROFITABLE health care. That is not alsways the same as the BEST health care, although spin merchants like Gingrich would like us to believe that the two outcomes are the same.

Posted by: ScottFromOz | July 6, 2009 4:36 PM
Report Offensive Comment

A recent column in the Wall Street Journal made the same comment about how well Medicare does at keeping down administrative costs.
But the writer went on to say that there are two of tradeoffs:
there is significantly more fraud with Medicare than with private plans, and, more importantly, that Medicare is very bad at implementing greater efficiency in the delivery of health care.
Do you feel that these criticisms are justified?

Posted by: mousytongue | July 6, 2009 1:54 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Perhaps someone could explain to Newt that Health care is already being rationed in this country by insurance companies on a for profit basis. But stand back! The realization may cause his head to explode.

Posted by: rlambert12 | July 6, 2009 1:02 PM
Report Offensive Comment

A lot of double-chin music that presupposes among other things that all operations are as well funded as Mayo Clinic, and that all patients should be white Lutherans in Minnesota. Bogus assumptions.

Instead of bumbling statistics, how about proposing something to reduce the current average 17% infection rate among American hospital patients? As opposed to the less-than-one percent which is the goal in Europe? Think that might save some money?

Posted by: lambcannon | July 6, 2009 12:56 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Mayo does it by taking a team approach to healthcare, eliminating lots of confusion, duplicative/unnecessary testing etc. Newt forget to mention that the private insurance approach eats up about 30% of heathcare costs for doing nothing but taking our money and paying it out. If you eliminated all the inefficiencies like this, you'd probably find that considerably less than half of what you pay for healthcare each year actually goes to heathcare. Which explains why all the other developed countries pay half of what we do for better results. See related Post article on all the lobbyist being hired by insurance companies, etc. to preserve this nonsense.

Posted by: jbkulp | July 6, 2009 12:36 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Wow, Newt Gingrich, the father of dishonesty, is proposing solution, he is paid by the Health care industry to give us an other private solution, because it worked very well for him to make a millions on Lobbying, It did not work for the millions of americans who needs health care, wether they have insurance or not.

Posted by: tqmek1 | July 6, 2009 12:36 PM
Report Offensive Comment

I have seen the statistic on Mayo Clinic before but I have never seen a description of how they do it.
What is Mayo doing that allows them to offer health care that is both higher in quality and lower in cost than most other medical centers?

Posted by: mousytongue | July 6, 2009 11:47 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Newt knows all about hospitals and health care. He divorced his wife while she was in one.

Posted by: Fonz | July 6, 2009 11:32 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company