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Obama on Healthcare

by Tony Chen

Today, Obama unveiled his stance on healthcare. Politically, this is significant because (1) it’s really the first time he’s provided a detailed glimpse into his policy mentality on anything; (2) healthcare has been Clinton’s pet issue up to this point; (3) healthcare has been deemed by some as the “theme of the Democratic primary.” While still fuzzy on total numbers, his strategy would mandate employers to provide (or fund) health insurance, create a new system for uninsured coverage, and establish a new “National Health Insurance Exchange” aimed at regulating insurers. It’ll be funded by eliminating tax cuts (capital gains and inheritance) for the wealthy. Under this plan, big pharma, managed care, big business, and the wealthy are the losers. By 2012, Obama promises a truly universal healthcare solution.

What’s missing in all the candidates’ policies are exactly the issues that we’ve been discussing here at World Health Care Blog. It’s not sexy (unless you are at a healthcare policy analyst party) to talk about investing in preventive health or managing the chronic diseases that will ravage our country for the next 50 years. It’s not appropriate or relevant to talk about personal responsibility and good lifestyle decisions in healthcare on the campaign trail. Is there a candidate out there who is willing to take on healthcare politics AND health politics?

By the way, here’s an excellent rundown of every candidate’s voting record regarding healthcare. And here’s AAFP’s summary of every candidate’s stance on healthcare.

In other news

by Tony Chen

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers for the great coverage of the conference. I’d be curious to hear if any key themes emerged from the conference. From my read of the 20 posts within the last 48 hours(!), it sounds like healthcare is heading towards a more collaborative future.

While you’ve been at the conference, a few tidbits that have surfaced in the last few days:
- Ezra Klein has a great piece The Health of Nations on the proven results of socialized medicine. Of course, our very own Matthew Holt pokes some holes in the piece.
- Keep your eye out on FierceHealthcare’s upcoming list of top hospital innovators to be published in a week or so. Their previous list of top Healthcare IT Innovators highlighted some undiscovered gems, and I suspect the hospital list will also. My vote is for Memorial Hospital & Health System in South Bend, Indiana. Got a product to test on patients? Give ‘em a call.
- A few weeks ago, it was diabetes that covered every front news page. This week, it seems to be obesity. A new study suggested that “the heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers’ compensation claims as their fit co-workers.” Epocrates issues their 2007 Obesity Report and stated that physicians believe obesity is America’s most severe health problem. One glimmer of good news: In a Swedish study, the number of obese kids dropped by 6% after banning buns, sweets, and soft drinks. US officials are finally looking at this now.
- The HealthAffairs blog has a great interview with innovation guru Clayton Christensen on what healthcare can learn from other industries