A Bipartisan Conversation on Health Reform

Our briefing in Tampa was a big success, with surprising agreement from our speakers that we CAN have a bi-partisan conversation on health reform. Three leading physician-legislators in the House of Representatives -– Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, Rep. Michael Burgess, chair of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, and Rep. Phil Gingrey, co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus -– were joined by Len Nichols, George Mason University professor of health policy and Galen’s Grace-Marie Turner for a lively and productive discussion.

Here is a terrific write up by Joyce Frieden, news editor of MedPage Today, complete with video interviews:

A bipartisan approach to health reform is possible, several speakers said here [last week] at a forum sponsored by the Galen Institute, a conservative think tank.

“The American people know there are real problems in our health sector that need to be fixed, and that really can have bipartisan solutions,” said Institute founder and president Grace-Marie Turner. Turner moderated the forum, which occurred in conjunction with the Republican National Convention…

People from both parties can agree on some healthcare principles, said panelist Tom Price, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and Republican Congressman from Georgia. “We agree that healthcare needs to be affordable for everybody, accessible for everybody, it needs to be of the highest quality and there absolutely must be choices for patients. That’s the common ground.”

 The parties also can agree that much of healthcare reform needs to be hammered out at the community level, said panelist Len Nichols, PhD, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va.

“You have got to really start where the people are,” he said. “Make it work where you live and work, and that means focusing on the community. Let communities tell you how they want to do it and what they want to do,” but hold them accountable for their results…

Panelist Michael Burgess, MD, an ob/gyn and a congressman from Texas, said that a good example of Republican/Democratic cooperation on a healthcare issue was the recent reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

“We were told … it would not work, but you know what? It worked,” said Burgess, referring to the use of the committee process in Congress and the cooperation between different sides of the aisle. “There was a gradual realization that it had to get done.”

Bipartisan legislation to reduce the shortage of antibiotics is another example of cooperation, said panelist Phil Gingrey, MD, another ob/gyn, and a congressman from Georgia. “There are solutions to these problems.”

Read the full post at MedPage Today