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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

The Bill Is Not the Goal

Slow down. Refocus. Break it into phases. Build momentum. Then, accomplish your goals.

It's time for us to take a breath, step back, and find where there's agreement. Identify the game-changing aspects of reform and get them passed. Then as a country, we can together put our energy and focus behind the toughest challenge still ahead: the actual implementation of the reforms.

One of the challenges I see with the president's plan for health care reform is it appears that increasing access to health care is ahead of the need to reduce costs. In business, a company cannot give money to charitable causes if it is not profitable. Similarly, a family has difficulty giving to others when they can't pay their own bills. If they do, the company and the individual end up in bankruptcy. The same should be true of the government, despite its ability to print money without going to jail.

If we focus on cost savings first, we can find the cash flow and the bandwidth to expand access. And cost savings, especially increasing efficiencies and leveraging technology, happens to be an area where broad bipartisan support is possible.

Passing a bill is only a step. Substantive health reform is the goal. President Obama should build a coalition from both parties to find those cost savings and then focus on one or two of the most vulnerable populations to expand access.

In addition, accomplishing tort reform and eliminating perverse incentives that clog our emergency rooms with sore throats and non-life threatening ailments will move us toward a comprehensive solution. Further, we can educate individuals on a local level to make better decisions about their health.

With the strong government involvement in our financial system and car companies, and now with discussion of a government-run health option, there is legitimate concern over the increasing role of government. To push through a bill on party line votes will stoke these fears and potentially lead to broad resistance when a new plan is implemented.

Few Americans disagree with the need to increase access to care for our citizens, especially given the wealth of our country. The way we do so without bankrupting this or future generations is important. It starts with finding ways to cut costs to create conditions for future success.

I will be happy if there are no votes before the recess. Then hopefully calmer heads can prevail and the rhetoric can die down. I recommend in August a coalition comes together to focus on those cost savings and some improvement in access. Then later this year, or next year, we can have a broad and impactful debate about the challenges and potential solutions in achieving universal health care.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  July 29, 2009; 4:05 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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