Take Cue from Clinics
In his recent press conference, President Obama began to educate the press and public about why we must control costs and improve the quality of health care. However, it should be the first in a series of discussions.
Obama made the essential point that doing nothing about health care would be irresponsible and doom the country to unaffordable costs. A significant percent of these costs are spent on unnecessary or harmful care--but the good news is, there are health care centers in America that truly are the best in the world in terms of both quality and cost.
After his press conference, Obama visited one of them--the Cleveland Clinic--but there was little discussion in the press about why this center and a few others should be models for developing a new health care system.
Obama is learning that the health care system needs to be transformed. He should share his learning with the country and, at the same time, work closely with moderates in Congress who want to reach the goal of sustainable, universal insurance. There are a number of initiatives that have been tested in other countries and states that can be included in legislation to bend the health care cost curve.
Furthermore, CEOs of major organizations in the industry have committed to initiatives that could produce savings of more than $1.0 trillion. These voluntary agreements with the White House could be codified into legislation.
Beyond these initiatives to insure short-term cost containment, I suggest that the president invite leaders from some of America's most cost effective health care organizations--Intermountain Healthcare of Salt Lake City, Kaiser-Permanente of Oakland, Californic, the Geisinger Clinic of Pennsylvania; the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic--to suggest the kinds of legislative incentives that would move the system in their direction.
The president's goal should not only be affordable health care for all Americans, but the development of a health care system that ultimately provides all of us what our best health care organizations now offer.
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