A Federation Full of Opportunity
I recently attended the 2007 Federation of American Hospitals Public Policy and Business Exposition held in Washington, D.C. This meeting seems to always over-deliver opportunity to its attendees. Opportunity for Federation members to understand the current landscape of our nation’s health system. Opportunity for its members to understand where our policy makers are steering this huge and vital industry.
This year we heard from David Walker, Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. His tale of the state of healthcare expenditures was sobering. Walker explained that in the last six years, total liabilities and unfunded commitments (such as Social Security and Medicare) have increased from $20 to $50 trillion. Yes – trillion. He further explained that $50 trillion is 95 percent of the household net worth of all Americans, including billionaires.
This daunting deficit set the stage for the week as reform was discussed by the likes of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.); Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Secretary Michael Leavitt, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Department of Labor.
Sen. Wyden spelled out a comprehensive health reform act called the Health American Act. The legislation attempts to cut the tie between employment and health insurance, initially increasing employees wage proportionate to the employer’s coverage contribution, yet at the same time making coverage mandatory for all Americans, all through withholdings. The withholdings come from paychecks by employers, or if they are not employed, their subsidy increases. The incredible savings in administrative costs, coupled with the coverage expanding to include all Americans, makes for a reform opportunity worth discussing.
The 2007 Federation of American Hospitals Public Policy and Business Exposition did a great job again this year showing all the attendees where our policy makers’ direction is steering our nation. The inflationary history of ever-increasing premiums, and the continued number of uninsured Americans, seem to be the proverbial last straws to really drive us to reform. I hope that reform, if and when it happens, gives our nation’s health system the opportunity to provide the world’s best care, that all Americans have access to and that is not compromising the fiscal well being of our nation for generations.
Thanks for reading this issue of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting.