Like everything else in Washington, health care reform discussions seem to have devolved into “left” vs. “right” and talking heads. Attributed to the left is the wish for a public plan. Attributed to the right is a refusal to accept that alternative. Like everything else in life, the debate is more complex once you get past the pundits and into the people who know.
Former secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt was interviewed by the Washington Post.
The man who helped oversee Medicare in the last administration describes the nation’s biggest government-run health plan as a fiscal disaster, and he says reform proposals that would build on it are a prescription for failure.
The federal program for the elderly and disabled provides uncoordinated care, it is indifferent to quality and “every incentive in the system is to provide more care, not better care,” said Michael O. Leavitt, who served as secretary of health and human services under President George W. Bush, in an interview yesterday.
That could be dismissed as a critic from the right, if the head of Kaiser Permanente, whose clients are many of the large unions, hadn’t said largely the same thing, according to Merrill Goozner, long-time health reporter:
“We need to accelerate the pace of actual delivery reform in the package,” he told a press briefing following his presentation to the second annual meeting of the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Institute at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland. Setting goals like those in the House bill is “directionally correct,” but “we can get to those goals much faster,” he said.
About a third of Kaiser’s nine million enrollees are union members and this year’s conference is dedicated to promoting greater use of integrated care models. Both Halvorson and John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, who jointly addressed the opening session of the day-long meeting, backed using Medicare to drive greater efficiencies through the entire system and setting up a government-run commission like the Medicare Payments Advisory Commission to reorganize payment policy.