Monday, February 4, 2008

US Healthcare - The Time for Reform is NOW!

On January 31, 2008 the American College of Physicians (ACP) kicked off their advocacy initiative with the goal to improve the US Healthcare system. Their mission is to have a system put into place that is "second to none". The elements of the vision that they have for this system include:

  • Everyone would have affordable health coverage.

  • Everyone would have access to a primary care physician to help guide them through the health care system (patient-centered medical home) - supported by public policies to assure a sufficient supply of primary care physicians.

  • Physicians' compensation would be based not just on how many services are provided, but also for their effectiveness in improving quality, coordinating care, and for preventative services.

  • Primary care physicians would receive higher compensation commensurate with their critical role in helping patients get high quality and efficient care.

  • Patients would be able to receive unbiased information on quality and cost and be rewarded with positive incentives to use health care wisely.

  • Paper claims would disappear and be replaced with a simple electronic billing system that all insurers would honor - just like all banks honor ATM cards.

  • Patients and their physicians would have electronic health records to provide them with evidence-based treatment guidelines, laboratory and diagnostic test results, medication lists, and medical histories at the point of care.

  • Patients and doctors would be able to choose among different treatment options based on independent research on their clinical effectiveness, costs and benefits compared to each other.

  • Patients and physicians would have access to the latest medical advances resulting from scientific research.

They've put together a "candidate's pledge" on these points and their asking all political candidates to sign it. Of course, none will do so - but that's not the point. The point is to make them aware that this new lobbying effort is in town and their job performance will be measured against this checklist.

With healthcare now at the forefront of political dialog I thought it would be fun to explore, in depth, the issues related to healthcare - who's proposing what and how will it impact HD families? For obvious reasons, the ACP's initiatives are biased toward the medical profession and seem to center around making sure that the primary care physician is the governing body in the domain of healthcare - and paid commensurate to the importance of their role. At this point I don't see any reason to disagree with this as long as patients can change primary care providers easily, privacy can be respected, and medical records can be transferred easily when requested by the patient.

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