Bob Helms, the dean of our health policy community who was a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, died yesterday at Holy Cross hospital in nearby Maryland, leaving behind a wealth of important work and a legacy of intellect and decency.
He was one of the seven founding members of the Health Policy Consensus Group, sitting for many hours around a conference table in the days of ClintonCare to create our first “Vision for Consumer-Driven Health Care Reform.” This vision has guided hundreds, maybe thousands, of health policy experts over the past several decades in working to preserve a free and private health sector.
Bob attended countless meetings of the Consensus Group in the 28 years since then and was our guidestar as we developed proposals supporting innovation, a strong and sustainable safety net for the most vulnerable, and policies that put doctors and patients, not bureaucrats, in charge of health decisions.
I served with Bob when we were appointed to the Medicaid Commission in 2005 where, once again, he was tireless in his advocacy for ideas that would give recipients the dignity of quality coverage. He brought experience, scholarship, and creativity to all of his work.
“He was such a kind man…Always generous with his time and wisdom…Such a good man!” colleagues wrote when I sent them messages yesterday about Bob’s death.
Bob was optimistic and alert as recently as last week. He was looking forward to his release from the hospital to see his daughters and grandchildren, but it was not to be.
Rest in peace, good and treasured friend, after a life of goodness and service.
His close friend and AEI colleague Joe Antos shared this message that went out today to the community of thousands of people he worked with over his career:
The Passing of Our Friend and Colleague Bob Helms