IN THIS ISSUE:
I want to do something different with the newsletter this week. I’m writing this on Monday night and election anxiety is so high that it is hard to concentrate on much else. By the time you have time to read this, you may already know the results. On the other hand, it may drag out for weeks – who knows?
In either case, the mission of the Galen Institute and our Center for Consumer Driven Health Care will remain the same. We do not look to politicians for leadership when it comes to reforming health care. Certainly it is helpful when politicians want to return power to the hands of American consumers and the Bush administration has been terrific in getting HSAs enacted and promoting them. But the real impetus for health care transformation comes from the broader community of consumers, physicians, employers, insurers, brokers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies who realize our current system of third-party payment is not working very well and are willing to think boldly about changing it for the better.
The best ideas come from all across America and from a variety of disciplines. Some of the heroes of consumerism in health care, at least in my very subjective opinion, include:
? Jesse Hixson, PhD, a recently retired economist at the AMA in Chicago, who developed the idea of MSAs in the early 1970s.
? Milton Friedman, PhD, of the Hoover Institute and now in San Francisco, who was one of the drivers of the “Chicago School” of free-market economics and was able to translate complex economics into plain English.
? John Goodman, PhD, of NCPA in Dallas Texas, who with Gerald Musgrave, PhD, of Michigan, authored the original book “Patient Power” that laid out the reasoning behind Medical Savings Accounts.
? Phil Gausewitz, MD, of San Diego, who provided the organizing skills and impetus to get “Patient Power” published.
? Pat Rooney, chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Company in Indianapolis, who put his considerable resources and energy to work helping get MSAs enacted into law.
? Stormy Johnson, MD, of Metairie, Lousiana, who as president of the AMA was essential in getting the AMA to endorse the MSA concept.
? Adrian Gore, of Discovery Health in South Africa, who was the first to prove the viability of MSAs with a large and diverse population.
? Tony Miller, of Definity Health in Minneapolis, who took the MSA concept and found a way to apply those concepts to large self-funded employers.
? Roger Chizek, of Medtronic in Minneapolis, who not only adopted Definity’s program for his own employees, but tirelessly worked to explain it to other employers.
? Mike Parkinson, MD, of Lumenos in Alexandria, Virginia, who took the idea of patient support and information to a whole new level.
? Ron Williams and Jack Rowe, of Aetna in Hartford, Connecticut, who were the first and most articulate of the legacy insurers to embrace consumer driven health care and back it up with solid research.
? Howard Wizig, of Vivius in Minneapolis, who not only formed a company with completely new ideas, but recognized that consumer driven health care is not just a product, it is a movement.
? Art Jetter, of Omaha, Nebraska, who during his term as NAHU president developed the idea of refundable tax credits as a way of equalizing the tax subsidy for those who buy their own coverage.
? Regina Herzlinger, PhD, of the Harvard Business School, whose book “Market Driven Health Care” highlighted the need for specialized facilities, especially for people with chronic conditions.
? Tom Charland, of MinuteClinics in Minneapolis, who is helping to initiate a new approach to transparent pricing and consumer convenience.
? Vern Cherewatenko, MD and David MacDonald, DO, of Seattle, Washington, who organized SimpleCare to encourage physicians to reject the bureaucracy of managed care in favor of treating patients directly on a cash basis.
There are many, many, many others who should be added to this list, and my apologies to anyone who feels slighted that I did not include them by name. But please notice that not one of these heroes is based in Washington, DC, or as far as I know has ever held elected office. They are men and women who demonstrate how the power of ideas (and hard work) can transform the world.
And that is what we are about at Galen. We want to take these and other great ideas and inspire the broader community to understand and embrace them. We are not, and we don’t need to be lobbyists. If employers, and hospitals, and insurers, and physicians, and academics, and the media, and consumers all come together around a new approach to health care – one that puts consumers in the driver’s seat – the politicians will race to get in front of the parade.
That is why Grace-Marie and I spend so much time on the road. We each probably spend more time in airplanes than we do in Washington. We are out there, not only delivering a message of reform, but also listening to different constituencies about how they will be affected and what else needs to be done to make it work better.
That is also why we have formed the Consumer Choice Community – so these many constituencies from all over the country can communicate directly with each other without having to go through a screener.
There is a powerful movement afoot. One that will transform health care from a creaky, tired old bureaucracy, to one that is efficient and sensitive to the needs of each individual consumer. This movement will continue regardless of who is president. The smell of change is in the air and it cannot be stopped.
Please send all comments/questions directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Consumer Choice Matters” is a free weekly newsletter published by the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit public policy organization specializing in research and education on health policy. Visit our website at http://www.galen.org for more information.
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The views expressed in this newsletter are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Galen Institute or its directors.