Last fall, I conducted one of the “3 CEOs” interviews at the 2012 Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. For my interview, I drew Steve Schelhammer, CEO of Phytel, a population health management technology provider. Aside from a little technical glitch — one that got edited out of this clip — with Schelhammer’s earpiece microphone not working, I think this went very well. The most amazing part is that this was the first session of the morning and not only was I on time, I was awake and alert.
In my previous post, I was perhaps a bit too critical of Maggie Mahar in her hosting of last week’s Health Wonk Review. I noted that there was not a word about health IT in that rundown, but that’s not her fault. A host can only include what’s submitted, and apparently nobody, myself included, who contributed to HWR bothered to submit a blog post about health IT this time around.
But I continue to be troubled by this fixation so many journalists, pundits, commentators, politicians and average citizens have on health insurance coverage, not actual care. I blame most of the former for the confusion among the populace. People within healthcare know that you can’t talk about reform without including the serious problems of quality and patient safety, and people within reform know that IT must be part of the discussion even if they don’t always say so.
I would like to draw your attention to a story of mine that appeared on InformationWeek Healthcare this morning, about a report on care integration from the esteemed Lucian Leape Institute. The report itself did not say a lot about IT, but the luminaries on the committee that produced the paper are aware of the importance.
I was lucky enough to interview retired Kaiser Permanente CEO David M. Lawrence, M.D., who told me there has been “little attention” paid to the importance of a solid IT infrastructure in improving care coordination and integration. “What you now have is too much data for the typical doctor to sift through,” Lawrence told me.
That’s exactly the message Lawrence L. Weed, M.D., has been trying to spread for half a century, as I’ve mentioned before. And that’s pretty much how longtime patient safety advocate Donald M. Berwick, M.D. — also a member of the Lucian Leape Institute committee that wrote the report — feels. Berwick hasn’t always advocated in favor of health IT in his writings and speeches, but he has told me in interviews that the recommended interventions in his 100,000 Lives Campaign and 5 Million Lives Campaign are more or less unsustainable in a paper world.
Isn’t about time more people understand that widespread health reform is impossible without attention to quality and that widespread quality and process improvements are impossible without properly implemented IT?
The newest installment of Health Wonk Review is up, courtesy of David Williams at the Health Business Blog, and my recent post about politicians perpetuating the myth that the U.S. has the “best healthcare in the world” is featured prominently. If you’re looking for anything else even vaguely related to health IT in this edition of HWR, you might be disappointed, but Williams offers a nice sampling of opinions on other topics that arose during the first presidential debate last week as well as a few ideas that could be considered part of overall health reform.
Speaking of health reform and politics, this morning I received a plea to donate money to the Romney campaign from the nutbars over at Docs4PatientCare. As a rule, I do not give money to any political candidates or to PACs because I want to maintain as much objectivity as possible for someone who occasionally calls people “nutbars.” Why do I say this about D4PC? A year and a half ago, I wrote this:
D4PC contacted me last fall with links to a series of videos, including one from group representative Scott Barbour, M.D. According to the original pitch to me, “Utilizing quotes from Dr. Berwick, Dr. Barbour exposed that, ‘He is not interested in better health care. He is only concerned about implementing his socialist agenda.’”
In another video, Docs4PatientCare Vice President Fred Shessel, M.D., said of Berwick, “This is a man who has made a career out of socializing medicine and rationing care for the very young, the very old and the very sick. It is a backdoor power grab. It is dragging our country down the road to socialism and we should resist it.”
I responded to this pitch with a short question: “Berwick isn’t interested in better care? Do you know anything about his work at IHI?” I never got a response. Docs4PatientCare seemingly was trying to hoodwink media that don’t know any better and/or care more about politics than facts.
Today’s pitch, from Michael Koriwchak, M.D., who calls himself the HIT expert of the group, said, “ObamaCare came along with its promise to destroy our health care system.” I would love to know who made that promise, and why anyone thinks we have such a great “system” now. (Prominent Republican Mike Leavitt, HHS secretary in the Bush administration, has often said we do not have a healthcare “system,” but rather a poorly run, inefficient, dangerous healthcare “sector.”)
“Every dollar you give brings us a step closer to victory in November and the opportunity to replace ObamaCare with doctor-driven improvements to our health care system,” Koriwchak adds. Do we really want “doctor-driven” improvements when physicians won’t admit that they make far more mistakes than any advanced nation should tolerate? I want data-driven improvements.
“The voices of physicians who care for patients every day are now heard in Washington. This may be the last opportunity for you to take back control of your health care. Do you want your health care decisions to be made by you and your doctor, or by an indifferent bureaucrat in Washington?” Koriwchak concludes.
With all due respect, that argument has been beaten to death for years. No bureaucrat in Washington is going to be making care decisions any more than a bean counter at a private insurer does. And patients can’t “take back” control of their care because they don’t have much control now as long as defenders of the status quo in the medical establishment won’t let patients see their own health records and act like physicians are infallible.
Koriwchak kills the little credibility he has left by saying he has “participated in conversations” with several members of Congress and includes the nutty Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who famously formed her views against the HPV vaccine based on what some random woman told her after a debate last year during the GOP primary season.
“She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn’t know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions,” Bachmann said, without offering a shred of scientific evidence. But if you repeat a lie often enough, people start to believe it. Right, Dr. Koriwchak?
The tragedy of Dr. Don Berwick’s short tenure as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been well-documented, including right here on this blog. Berwick got in by a controversial recess appointment because President Obama didn’t have the political courage to fight for his nominee and allow Berwick to face the Democratic-controlled Senate. Berwick, of course, quit late last year when it became clear Obama would not renominate Berwick for the job he is uniquely qualified for.
There have been a number of postmortems in the press, where Berwick discussed his experience running CMS, including the challenges of implementing both the HITECH Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and his. continuing efforts to improve the quality of care in this country. But I haven’t seen one quite as good as what Dan Rather just produced.
The former CBS News anchor has been toiling in relative obscurity at HDNet, a hard-to-find cable network run by billionaire Mark Cuban. Fortunately, Rather took to the far more popular Huffington Post this week to share his thoughts on a recent interview he conducted with Berwick.
“Dr. Don Berwick, a pediatrician by training, came to Washington with a sterling reputation among people who actually know something about health care. He had helped pioneer the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which may sound like another pointy-headed D.C. think tank, but really is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based organization lauded the world over for helping make health care systems better. For example, they have worked with hospitals on common sense techniques to reduce hospital infections. These are serious people who are welcomed in hospitals and clinics across the country and around the world,” Rather wrote on HuffPo.
That’s right, Rather understood Berwick’s background, unlike, say Dr. Scott Barbour of a crackpot group called Docs4PatientCare. “Utilizing quotes from Dr. Berwick, Dr. Barbour exposed that, ‘He is not interested in better health care. He is only concerned about implementing his socialist agenda,’” read a pitch I received from that organization last year.
I’ve been over this before. Berwick has probably done more to improve the quality of care and save lives than anybody else on the planet today. Some of the people who publicly opposed his nomination privately knew this, as Rather’s interview with Berwick demonstrates:
Yes, most of the opposition was an elaborate lie perpetrated for political gain. In today’s Washington, is anybody surprised? The losers once again are the American people and anybody who comes to this country for healthcare.
As you probably heard, CMS today released a 696-page final rule on accountable care organizations. I wrote a piece for InformationWeek Healthcare that should be posted no later than tomorrow morning, so I’m not going to rehash that. What I will do is show you the various reactions from many interest groups to the rule, particularly the ones that have an IT bent. Unfortunately, there haven’t been too many released so far, and none from the major health IT associations. Now, AMIA and CHIME are gearing up for their annual conferences next week and, let’s face it, the rule is 696 pages long, so I’ll update this page as statements come in.
For the official line, see CMS Admnistrator Don Berwick’s commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine. Notably, he mentions EHRs in the very first paragraph, in which he explains how he delivered accountable care as a Harvard pediatrician.
STATEMENT ON FINAL ACO RULE
President and CEO
American Hospital Association
October 20, 2011
Today’s rules represent the direction in which the hospital field is moving – toward better coordinated patient care across care settings. We commend CMS for listening to the concerns of America’s hospitals. The hospital field is actively working on ways to improve care delivery and the final accountable care organization rule provides hospitals a better path to do so.
In response to the concerns of the AHA and its hospital members, CMS made significant changes to the financial model, provided more flexibility in the assignment of beneficiaries and took a second look at the quality framework. We believe today’s menu of ACO options allows America’s hospitals to create new models of accountable care organizations on which the transformation of health care delivery is so dependent.
The AHA is also encouraged by the historic effort among several federal agencies to achieve the goal of better coordinated care. Specifically the antitrust agencies responded to hospital concerns and reversed their plan to require antitrust preapproval for every ACO applicant and instead provided guidance. We believe removing this barrier was essential to encouraging ACO participation.
Hospital and health system leaders welcome the concept of providing patient care in a more accountable, more coordinated way and know that they will be held increasingly at financial risk in improving outcomes for patients and becoming more efficient in the delivery of services. Hospitals already are engaged in private sector ACO initiatives and the final rule provides an additional avenue for the provision of accountable care.
The AHA strongly supports the goals and principles of the ACO program and delivery system reforms that improve patient care and quality while reducing costs. We will continue to work with CMS and other agencies to remove the substantial legal and regulatory barriers throughout the health care system to clinical integration that still remain.
I understand the American Medical Association had similar impressions, but I haven’t actually seen the AMA’s statement yet. However, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), which stands to lose if expensive diagnostic tests are reduced, was disappointed:
AdvaMed Statement on
Final Accountable Care Organization Regulation
WASHINGTON , D.C. – Ann-Marie Lynch, executive vice president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), released the following statement regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs):
“AdvaMed is concerned that CMS failed to address key issues in the final ACO rule that would have advanced patient care, ensured patient access to innovative treatments and technologies, and avoided incentives to stint on care.
“We are also concerned the rule does not address the very real danger of slowing the development of new treatments and cures. The failure to consider how innovative products play an important role in improving patient care threatens medical progress for current and future patients. Without certain design elements, the ACO program may have the effect of limiting treatment options and discouraging physicians from adopting new advancements in care.
“CMS failed to include or even discuss common-sense provisions to support continued medical progress, despite concerns expressed by the life science industry, patient groups, and members of Congress. CMS’ action runs counter to the President’s January 18 Executive Order directing agencies issuing regulations to seek to identify ways to promote innovation and undercuts the President’s goal of fostering a ‘national bioeconomy.’
“We are also disappointed that CMS rolled back rather than revamped the quality measures included in the draft rule. The final rule lacks sufficient measures of patient outcomes to assure quality of care. There are large areas of clinical practice not addressed at all – including cancer, severe arthritis, chronic pain and osteoporosis.
“This rule is a missed opportunity to ensure that the sweeping changes in payment policy established by the Affordable Care Act will support medical progress and assure that patients can receive the care most appropriate for their needs.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges was thrilled that med schools won’t be held to the same standards as everyone else:
AAMC Applauds Final ACO Rule Excluding Medical Education Payments
Washington, October 20, 2011— AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., issued the following statement today on the Medicare Shared Savings Program “Accountable Care Organizations”(ACO) Final Rule:
“The AAMC is pleased that the ACO final rule excludes indirect medical education payments from the methodology used to assess shared savings under the program. By not including these policy payments in the historical cost analysis, medical schools and teaching hospitals— institutions that often treat the sickest and most vulnerable patients—have a better opportunity to participate in the ACO initiative.
While we are still examining the details of the final rule, the AAMC has always been supportive of new models of care that put patients first and also leverage the benefits of institutions’ educational and research missions to reign in the unsustainable growth in health care costs. We look forward to working with our members, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help identify ways to partner with the academic medicine community and institutions working to advance meaningful health system innovation.”
The Campaign for Better Care, a coalition of consumer groups interested in quality care for seniors, called the rule a “reasonable compromise”:
Consumer Groups Say New Accountable Care Organization Rule is a Reasonable Compromise, Urge All Parties to Get On-Board to Ensure Patients Will Soon Benefit from Better Coordinated, More Patient-Centered Care
Statement of Campaign for Better Care Leader Debra L. Ness
“The final rule on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, has provisions that will both please and concern various parties. As advocates for consumers, particularly for our oldest and sickest patients who urgently need better-coordinated care, we applaud this effort to incentivize better primary care, increase coordination, and share accountability across providers. We are very pleased that this final rule will require ACOs to adhere to strong patient-centered criteria, use beneficiary experience of care measures to evaluate performance, and ensure full transparency, notification and choice for beneficiaries. These provisions are all essential to realizing the promise of successful ACOs, which patients in this country are counting on.
This new rule is not perfect, but it provides a path away from the broken, dysfunctional health care system we have today toward a system that offers higher quality, better coordinated and more patient-centered care.
We consider it most unfortunate that the provisions requiring beneficiary participation on ACO boards have been tempered. We urge the Department to closely monitor these provisions to ensure that consumers and beneficiaries are engaged in the design, governance and assessment of ACOs in their communities. We will be watching closely to assess whether ACOs operate in the public interest and reflect the needs and perspectives of the communities they serve. Consumers and patients hope and expect that these provisions will be strengthened down the road if needed.
In the end, we see this rule as a reasonable compromise. The Department was enormously responsive to the comments that were filed and in particular, to concerns raised by providers. It is time now for all parties to come together to create successful ACOs that deliver care that is truly patient-centered, that improves quality and care coordination, and that lowers costs. This new model of care deserves to be tested along with the numerous other innovations that have and will be promoted by the CMS Innovation Center. Patients and consumers have no time to waste.
The stakes are too high to ignore the promise that ACOs offer to improve care and bring us better value for our health care dollars. We must not let opponents of reform use any remaining differences to block the progress Americans so urgently need. Transformation is never easy, but the cost of failure to patients, families and the country is simply too high.”
AARP called the rule a “good first step” in improving quality and lowering Medicare costs:
AARP Statement on New HHS Programs Designed to Improve Coordination and Quality of Patient Care in Medicare
WASHINGTON—AARP Legislative Policy Director David Certner released a statement following today’s announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a final rule introducing two new programs—the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Advance Payment model—to help providers better coordinate patient care and use health care dollars more wisely through accountable care organizations (ACOs). Both programs create incentives for health care providers to work together to treat an individual patient across care settings – including doctors’ offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Certner’s statement follows:
“Accountable care organizations have the potential to improve the quality and lower the cost of health care for all patients. By working across the spectrum of providers to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time and in the right setting, accountable care organizations have shown great promise in positively changing the way we deliver care.
“The programs announced today can benefit people in Medicare by encouraging providers to work together to better coordinate patient care, which can lead to fewer hospital readmissions and lower Medicare costs. AARP believes today’s announcement is a good first step and we welcome the chance to further review these programs.”
While people continue to demonize CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick and President Obama essentially throws Berwick under the political bus, far too many are missing the message. Wouldn’t “radical communist thugs” like one commenter on this YouTube page labeled the Obama administration really want to dehumanize patient care?
Watch this short video of Berwick speaking in Berlin in 2009 (yes, socialist Europe). He talks about how patient care already has been dehumanized and how healthcare professionals and organizations routinely ignore the wishes of patients. Speaking of a friend who couldn’t get mammogram results over the phone, Berwick said, “Their choice trumps her choice. Period. And that’s what scares me. It scares me to be made helpless before my time, to be made ignorant when I want to know, to be made to sit when I wish to stand, or to be alone when I need to hold my wife’s hand, or to eat what I do not wish to eat, or to be named what I do not wish to be named, or to be told when I wish to be asked, or to be awoken when I wish to sleep.”
Does that sound like a “radical communist thug” or someone genuinely committed to improving the quality of care and actually humanizing the patient experience?
In just the last few hours, I’ve seen a huge wave of pushback and doubt about Watson, the IBM supercomputer, being used for clinical decision support.
Yesterday, I covered a “healthcare leadership exchange” at IBM’s new Healthcare Innovation Lab in downtown Chicago. I posted some of my observations on the EMR and HIPAA blog, and made the case for diagnostic decision support.
I also wrote a story for InformationWeek, but that hasn’t run. Instead of posting my story, InformationWeek healthcare editor Paul Cerrato wrote a column about Watson already being “beaten in the medical diagnostics race” by Isabel Healthcare, a diagnostic decision support tool that’s been available for years. I have to admit, he’s right. I first interviewed Isabel founder Jason Maude probably in 2002 or so, and I first blogged about the company in 2005. I mentioned Isabel in a 2007 post that, interestingly, also alluded to the work of Don Berwick and Larry Weed.
Cerrato mentioned Jerome Groopman’s 2007 book, “How Doctors Think,” which discussed, in part, how IT could help doctors avoid many types of cognitive errors. “[D]octors tend to lean toward diagnoses that are most available to them in their day-to-day routine,” Cerrato wrote (emphasis in original). That’s exactly what Weed has said for decades, and exactly what Atul Gawande talked about in his groundbreaking book, “Complications.” Computers should not make decisions for physicians, but rather should help them reach the right conclusions, particularly when they see rare cases.
Wouldn’t you know, “e-Patient” Dave deBronkart commented on my EMR and HIPAA post to say he just finished reading Groopman’s book. He tweeted a link to my post, which a few of his 6,500 other Twitter followers noticed. They also noticed EMR and HIPAA grand poobah John Lynn’s comment that the example in yesterday’s Watson demo, a 29-year-old pregnant woman being prescribed doxycyline was “pretty weak.” (He’s right, by the way.) Aurelia Cotta, who blogs about issues such as infertility and adoption, started this thread that also got South Carolina nurse Sunny Perkins Stokes interested:
Well, there’s a reason why I call myself a “healthcare” reporter and not a “medical” reporter. I don’t know the science, and I do occasionally get myself in trouble when I start talking about things like whether doxycycline is contraindicated during pregnancy. (To my credit, I did attribute the statement to IBM’s chief medical scientist, Dr. Marty Kohn.)
As I was reading the above tweets and contemplating this blog post, I came across a link to some tongue-in-cheek pushback against Watson in healthcare. An anonymous radiologist who blogs about PACS as “Dr. Dalai” compared Watson to HAL, the diabolical mainframe in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Dr. Dalai wrote: “Watch out, boys and girls, Watson is headed to a hospital near you, and he (it?) may challenge you as much as he did Ken Jennings.” Jennings, of course, is the Jeopardy! champion whom Watson beat earlier this year.
At first glance, I thought Dr. Dalai was yet another whiny physician clinging to the status quo. But he hit on the real issue: application of knowledge. Quoting from an interview with one of Watson’s programmers, Dr. Dalai noted that the supercomputer is being loaded with all kinds of medical reference material in preparation for “learning” human physiology and ultimately gathering experience in medicine. “This isn’t fair! If I could just take a text book, stick it up my, ummmm, brain, and have it instantly memorized, I would be whiz, too!” he wrote.
Yeah, isn’t that the whole point of clinical decision support?
It’s been a full decade since the Institute of Medicine published the second volume in its landmark series on patient safety and quality of care, Crossing the Quality Chasm. We appear to be not much closer to achieving a high-quality health system as we were 10 years ago.
Last week, as you may have already heard, a paper in Health Affairs from researchers at the University of Utah concluded that adverse events may be 10 times more prevalent than previously believed and that errors may occur in an astounding one-third of all hospital admissions. The research team, which included such luminaries as Dr. David Classen, Dr. Brent James and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement‘s Frank Federico, also said that their estimates probably were on the conservative side.
Patient-safety advocate Regina Holliday finagled her way into the Health Affairs briefing on the subject on Thursday, and was disappointed by her observation that patients were almost an “afterthought” in a discussion on how to close the gaping chasm. Holliday, a sometimes painter, expresses her frustration in words in this interesting blog post and on canvas. Note that she depicts Accountable Care Organizations as a unicorn.
Do I have to remind you of who used to be the driving force behind the IHI? That of course would be Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the administrator of CMS that Republicans want to kick to the curb because they think they can score political points against the Obama administration. For that matter, the Obama administration and Democrats in the Senate are willing to sacrifice Berwick because they clearly lack the cojones to stand up for better healthcare. Yes, I said cojones. Sue me.
Please read and share my series of posts on Berwick if you haven’t done so already.
More reasons why CMS needs Berwick (March 20)
Slams on Berwick getting pathetic (March 23)
It’s time for another baseball season, and Health Wonk Review is ready to go. as with the Spring Training Edition two weeks ago, optimism reigns. (Host Jason Shafrin of the Healthcare Economist blog proves it by calling for the Milwaukee Brewers to win the World Series this year. I guess cheeseheads are still giddy from the Green Bay Packers’ victory in the Super Bowl two months ago.)
I didn’t make the starting lineup, but am an early choice from the bullpen for my “Slams on Berwick are getting pathetic” post. Curiously, Shafrin wades away from the controversy a bit by highlighting something said by a person I’m critiquing, namely that comparative effectiveness research “doesn’t work in the real world.”
Not surprisingly, no post related to health IT cracks the starting nine at all. Even something from the Health Affairs blog by Vanderbilt medical informaticist Dr. Mark Frisse is relegated to the bullpen. Yeah, we know we’re underdogs, but take a look at the NCAA Final Four, which includes under-respected teams from Butler and Virginia Commonwealth. Actually, look at last year’s World Series, featuring the star-crossed San Francisco Giants and the unheralded Texas Rangers. Is this the year health IT surprises all the doubters by riding its strengths to a championship season?
Hope springs eternal, especially here on the North Side of Chicago. It’s time to play ball!
RIP, Steve Goodman (1948-1984). You’ll get your wish someday.
The slams on Dr. Donald Berwick, frankly, are getting pathetic.
Today, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel dismissed Berwick as a “basically a policy wonk” who “hasn’t really practiced since 1989.” Siegel tried to score points with sound bites. “This guy has more quotes than Yogi Berra, and let me tell you something, these quotes are an indictment on people that want clinicians to make decisions,” Siegel said on Fox this afternoon.
According to Siegel, comparative effectiveness “doesn’t work in the real world.” Well, sure, that’s the point of clinical decision support. Best practices are for common conditions, and clinical decision support is to help physicians either follow best practices in the case of common conditions or, just as importantly, diagnose and treat ailments that they don’t often see. (Read Dr. Atul Gawande’s best seller, “Complications,” for a description of the chaos that ensues when physicians see rare cases.)
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly tried to feign fairness by saying of President Obama’s recess appointment that installed Berwick as CMS administrator last year, “lots of presidents do it.” But she later said that that Berwick “loves” the British National Health System, trying to paint Berwick as a socialist. Once again, this isn’t about socialism or capitalism or any other ism that has unfortunately been the focus of “health reform” in this country. It’s about trying to improve the quality of care. (It’s not about insurance, no matter how many politicians or pundits say so.)
Defending Berwick was Dr. Cathleen London, a family practitioner at the Weill Cornell Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center in New York City. London took issue with Berwick’s opponents relying on sound bites to make their thin arguments. (Siegel smugly laughed this off.)
When Kelly again tried to tie Berwick to the NHS, London said, “He likes that we do evidence-based medicine, that the British have NICE that actually oversees what the NHS should cover and shouldn’t.” Yes, the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent advisory board that helps the NHS make coverage decisions. You know, the same way any insurance system, public or private, has to decide what and what not to cover.
To his credit, Siegel praised Berwick’s work at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for helping to reduce deaths in hospitals. “He’s apparently very well liked among patient safety advocates,” Kelly added.
London noted that former CMS Administrator Tom Scully, a George W. Bush appointee, is a fan of Berwick. Still, Siegel continued on his argument that comparative effectiveness is restributive in that it takes healthcare away from some people. “You’re not going to be able to pay for very expensive care,” Siegel said.
Why exactly would we want very expensive care in cases where less expensive but equally effective treatments are available? Is it because of the public perception that more expensive care automatically means better care? It sounds like Siegel is either trying to perpetuate that myth or protect the profits of pharmaceutical and device manufacturers. But then he made the salient point that “insurance is overused” and that healthcare reform, which he derides as “ObamaCare,” did little to address that problem.
All that says is that both sides of the political debate are wrong, and the Senate Democrats are cowards for not standing up for better care.