November 10, 2009

November 10: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Democrats Raise Alarms Over Costs of Health Bills

As health care legislation moves toward a crucial airing in the Senate, the White House is facing a growing revolt from some Democrats and analysts who say the bills Congress is considering do not fulfill President Obama’s promise to slow the runaway rise in health care spending…


Experts — including some who have consulted closely with the White House, like Dr. Denis A. Cortese, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic — say the measures take only baby steps toward revamping the current fee-for-service system, which drives up costs by paying health providers for each visit or procedure performed…


Dr. Cortese, of the Mayo Clinic, said the bills could do more to reward quality care over quantity. He said he had met with Mr. Orszag and others at the White House and had proposed legislative language that would give Medicare three years to begin rewarding hospitals that are delivering better care at lower cost…“Our position has been focusing on paying for value,” he said, adding, “My take is there are people in the White House who understand exactly what I’m saying.”


NY Times by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, 11/9/09


Dutch View of Choice in U.S. Care: It’s Limited

The health system in the United States may be twice as expensive as those in Europe, and the population may be less healthy, but at least Americans have access to many more choices of doctors and insurers. Right?


No, says Ab Klink, the Dutch health minister.

Mr. Klink was in Washington last week to attend an annual meeting sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, a private health care research foundation, and swap ideas with counterparts from other countries. At the meeting, the foundation released the results of a survey of doctors from 11 countries that reflected poorly on the United States… Between meetings, Mr. Klink sat down with The New York Times… Here is an edited transcript of the conversation:



A. I cannot tell you that Dutch hospitals are better than the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins. Probably it’s the other way around. That’s why we’re visiting them. But it’s not because this kind of quality would not be allowed in our system. We would love the Mayo to open a hospital in the Netherlands.



A. If you look at Kaiser Permanente or the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to note that they were both started by people who really cared about patients and instilled a culture to offer the best health care possible, and they were able to keep this culture for many decades. And as far as I’m informed, prices in these institutions are not that different than those in other institutions or those in Holland. So I don’t think the fundamental aspect of these institutions has to do with the liberal climate in your country.


NY Times by Gardiner Harris, 11/9/09



Why Health Reform Will Be a Danger to Passive Patients

True health reform may well take a generation, as the nuts and bolts of a massive new system are sorted out and assembled. But it seems clear that a sea change is coming in the way Americans experience and pay for healthcare—one that will require us to develop a whole new set of muscles…


Some have called it a Mayo-ization of medicine, after the clinic where for almost a century doctors from every medical domain have worked together as a salaried staff, fully integrated with the hospital. It's coming. A variety of models being tested as part of health reform draw from the Mayo design. In an "accountable health organization," a population of patients is cared for by an integrated system of hospitals, generalist and specialist doctors, and other health professionals, who track people's use of services and outcomes and are paid as a group based on performance.


US News & World Report by Bernadine Healy, M.D., 11/9/09


Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Boston Globe


Top stories


Democrats Raise Alarms Over Costs of Health Bills

The New York Times
Nov. 10, 2009


As health care legislation moves toward a crucial airing in the Senate, the White House is facing a growing revolt from some Democrats and analysts who say the bills Congress is considering do not fulfill President Obama’s promise to slow the runaway rise in health care spending.


Senate Democrats Look to Start Health Reform Debate Next Week

The Hill

Nov. 9, 2009


Senate Democratic leaders expect their long-awaited healthcare bill to hit the chamber floor as early as Monday.


Medical Association Backs Health System Reform

The Washington Post

Nov. 9, 2009


The American Medical Association on Monday rebuffed dissident members and voted to stick with support for ongoing health reform efforts, while reiterating wariness over proposals that threaten doctors' pocketbooks and independence.


Wellness/Chronic Care


Battle With Heart Disease Moves to the Doctor's Office

The Wall Street Journal
Nov. 10, 2009

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology are aiming to reduce the toll of cardiovascular disease and increase adherence to long-established prevention guidelines by collecting data from doctors that document their encounters with patients during regular office visits. The initiatives aim to bring to outpatients some of the improvements that hospitals have achieved in the care of patients who have suffered heart attacks or strokes or who have been admitted with congestive heart failure.

Reform efforts


Bill Clinton to Address Senate Democrats on Health Care


Nov. 10, 2009


Former President Bill Clinton will attend the Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon Tuesday to address the caucus about health care.


Poll: Americans Divided on Health Care Overhaul

The New York Times
Nov. 9, 2009

Americans are feeling more doubtful about an overhaul of the health care system than they were in September, according to a new Gallup poll.

Obama Seeks Revision of Plan’s Abortion Limits

The New York Times
Nov. 10, 2009


President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.


Senate Faces Abortion Rights Rift

Nov. 9, 2009


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found his health reform efforts seriously complicated Monday by the explosive issue of abortion, as key centrist senators said they wanted to see airtight language in the bill blocking federal funding for the procedure.


Trick for Democrats Is Juggling Ideology and Pragmatism

The New York Times

Nov. 10, 2009


Democrats have displayed a striking degree of pragmatism in seeking to push the health care bill through Congress, embracing or rejecting ideological considerations as needed to keep the legislation moving.


But if the flexibility shown by party leaders on issues like abortion and the proposed government-run insurance plan has kept the legislative process on track, it has also left many liberals off balance and risked alienating the party’s base as the midterm elections approach.


Five Flash Points as Health Care Reform Moves to the Senate

The Christian Science Monitor
Nov. 9, 2009


In the Senate, passage of healthcare reform legislation will be even harder than in the House. Here are five issues that could delay or, perhaps, torpedo healthcare reform.




Dutch View of Choice in U.S. Care: It’s Limited

The New York Times

Nov. 10, 2009


What has been sold as a strength of the American medical system does not look like one to the health minister from the Netherlands.


Med Schools Offer Doses of New Reality

The Washington Post

Nov. 10, 2009


Once organized around anatomy, physiology and pathology, medical school curricula are now focusing more on patient-caregiver relationships, health policy and holistic and alternative techniques.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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