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Health Alert | Daschle

by John Goodman

(John C. Goodman, Ph.D., Dr. John Goodman is president and founder of the National Center for Policy Analysis. Known as the “Father of Health Savings Accounts,” Dr. Goodman is the author of nine books; his book Patient Power is credited with setting a pro-free-market agenda for solving health care problems. He also has authored numerous editorials in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and many other newspapers and appears regularly on television, including Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and CNBC. Dr. Goodman regularly briefs members of Congress on economic policy issues.)

With Tom Daschle slated to become the next HHS Secretary, there has been a mad rush to get a copy of his book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis, which apparently no one had previously read. Since booksellers can’t possibly meet the demand, here is my brief attempt to satisfy your curiosity.

The main ideas: Medicaid expansion, Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) for everyone who wants to enroll, Medicare for the nonelderly as a FEHBP option, a play-or-pay mandate for individuals, income-based, refundable tax credit subsidies (both at work and away from work), a play-or-pay mandate for employers, electronic medical records, a national health board (”to establish a single standard of care for every other provider and payer”…covering every disease from cancer to diabetes and even depression), preventive care, dental health, mental health, long-term care, home care, community health centers and combating obesity.

Not on the list: Health Savings Accounts, although Daschle was once an advocate, and even cosponsored HSA legislation.

Not on the list: Single-payer health insurance, but only because it is not politically practical.

Not on the list: Any way to pay for any of this. (The issue is not, can we afford reform? The issue is, can we afford not to?) I’m not kidding.


  Don Simborg wrote @ December 2nd, 2008 at 7:41 am

As one of those who rushed to order Tom Daschle’s book, I appreciate your summary and agree with your comments. I want to expand particularly on electronic health records (EHRs) which seems to be a part of everyone’s solution. The CBO report of last May pretty well deflated the biased predictions of massive savings from EHRs published by RAND and CITL. Peter Orszag who oversaw the CBO report will now head OMB. As one of the pioneers of EHRs and long-time advocate of them, I agree with Peter Orszag that EHRs are a tool and not a solution. It is how we use that tool that matters and until we require that EHRs build in fraud management protections and provide incentives to physicians to use the decision support capabilities of EHRs, they will increase costs, not decrease them.

  rsgrady wrote @ December 2nd, 2008 at 9:15 am

I would be curious to know where the ideas of “health” and “responsibility” fall within Tom Daschle’s book and within the new administration’s thinking on healthcare. I am also interested in what, if any, healthcare “quick wins” have been identified and how those can be leveraged to build momentum for solving these issues. I am also curious as to Mr. Daschle’s positions on HDHPs/HSAs a year after writing his book given employer adoption of them this enrollment season along with evidence that people with them are indeed becoming more engaged with their own health and healthcare.

  James Hovland wrote @ December 3rd, 2008 at 12:02 am

That’s the president of a PR firm that is fighting against ‘Single Payer” health care, that has deemed it “not politically practical”. There is a lot more propaganda coming from these people than just what you see here. Google “Devon Herrick”. He is a “fellow” at “National Center for Policy Analysis” currently spreading the same basic message. These people don’t give up, because they get paid to advocate for insurance and against government-run health care. This isn’t about what they want or think is best, it’s about a fat check. The really sick part of it all is where the money comes from. Unlike a government-run Single Payer system would work, the insurance companies spend our health care dollars on whatever they feel like. Some expenses include, campaign contributions, lobbyists, and PR firms. Sorry Mr. Goodman, but I would rather my health care dollars paid for health care, not your services.

  Devon Herrick, NCPA wrote @ December 3rd, 2008 at 1:50 pm

James Hovland is completely wrong.

The National Center for Policy Analysis, for whom I work, is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. We get very few contributions from the health insurance industry and for most of the NCPA’s history, insurers were opposed to our ideas on empowering patients through health savings accounts. Over time our ideas won over many in the insurance industry. We persuaded them. They did not persuade us. With single-payer health insurance, why do you think that would be bad for large private insurers? Blue Cross administers Medicare almost everywhere and that would likely continue under any single-payer system.

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