Kathleen's Blog: Second Opinion
Kathleen O’Connor, CodeBlueNow! founder and CEO, gives her “second opinion” on the standard health care policy/reform spins.
Jan 25, 2010
All I hear from friends and colleagues is the utter disgust with the partisan bickering.
I think the White House should hire a mediator to get the Republicans and Democrats to work together.
We cannot sustain this divide.
There was consensus on the part of the public on key elements of reform.
But the reform debate was hijacked by Beltway policy wonks and the public's voice and views were trounced.
Donate to CodeBlueNow! today to make sure the public's voice is not lost in the months ahead.
Oct 29, 2009
While Congress is actually moving forward with system reform, we need systemic reform in the ways we deliver health care services.
The current issue of Newsweek has a powerful article: What You Don't Know Might Kill You
Earlier, Atul Gawande in The New Yorker talked about care variations between cities and regions,
We also have Shannon Brownlee's wonderful book: Overtreated.
I think we will have significant reform coming our of Congress this year. As our Congressman from Washington State said recently, "What we are building now is the foundation for reform." Which is a good way of looking at what is in the offing. So far, this reform is reflecting our finding of what the public wants.
But, if we are to have long-term and meaningful reform, we need to look at the tremendous care variations for the same procedure as Gawande so artfully outlined. Few groups are doing that in any claims data, which one reflects what was coded and billed.
One group in Washington State has been addressing these care variation for years with excellent outcomes: The Foundation for Health Care Quality.
Their Clinical Outcomes Assessment Program (COAP) just listed the performance of participating hospitals on how their cardiac care met state standards.
The Surgical Clinical Outcomes Assessment Program (SCOAP)
now has a surgical and ambulatory surgical care checklists in half the hospitals in Washington State. Why these checklists are not in every hospital in the country is beyond me.
Their Washington Patient Safety Coalition now has a Medication Safety Initiative
"My Medicine List" can now be shared with all the patient's health care providers from MD to Pharmacy.
While these are not simple steps in all cases, they do have an impact. We should be doing this on a national level.
"Why a patient can put their lives in the hand of a doctor and have no idea of the doctor's prior experience, is totally beyond me," Terry Rogers, MD, CEO, Foundation for Health Care Quality. "Right now, you can't get that information quickly and reliably anywhere."
"What is also true is that there is a 3 to 40% variation in care for maternal deliveries. This is something women have been doing for thousands of years. It is astonishing such a range of variations exists, right here in Puget Sound, one of the most sophisticated medical markets in the country," Rogers added.
Interested in following patient safety issues? Here is an interesting blog:
Compared to Airlines
Two pilots missed Minneapolis by 100 miles. No one died. The plane arrived safely. They will probably lose their jobs. Or fly desks instead of planes. Over 100,000 people die every year from medical errors. That is the equivalent of 400 Boeing 747 crashes every year.
We need a health care FAA and we need it now.
Remember the White House Challenge?
Organizing for America challenged the public to send in 30 second video clips on health care. They have selected the top videos. You can vote!
Finally, while we urge you to urge your Congressional delegation to pass the upcoming legislation, we also want to urge the delegations to start looking at the true transformation of our health care and providing services that are at least as safe as airlines.
Sep 09, 2009
While words are hand grenades in health care, we need to either change the language or stop focusing on words. Our work over the last six years has shown that more consensus exists on health care than we are led to believe. What has happened is that the health care reform discussion has been held hostage to the diatribes of two extremes. We are a practical people who want to solve problems. We distrust labels and solutions, and we are a lot smarter than we are given credit for when it comes to health care reform. http://www.codebluenow.org/In%20their%20Voices.pdf
I hope we can all cool down and roll up our shirt sleeves and get to work to build a health care system that works for us, not against us.
Aug 17, 2009
Messaging and Naming and Framing an Issue. How one frames an issue is how one defines the problem. Health care is not just about cost and access as we are seeing in the debate now, it is an extremely personal issue that touches numerous concerns. That’s why fear is so effective in tearing reform apart.
I worked on a leadership team for three years with the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio. Kettering is a research foundation that studies democratic practice. The organization is headed by David Matthews who was was the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Gerald Ford. www.kettering.org
A critical issue in the success of addressing a problem is how it is framed. See their overview publication: It is short and to the point. http://www.kettering.org/File%20Library/PDF/NamingandFramingIssues.pdf
In order to engage the public, it is critical to frame the problem in language that the people use to talk about the issue. “If people don’t see their worries reflected back to them in their words, they back off.” “Security” and “insurance exchanges” are not the public’s words. “Peace of mind” and “easy to understand affordable choices” would be, for example.
Everyone seems to have completely ignored the final report of the Citizens Health Care Working Group
Ironically, despite the heavy scripting of the Working Group meetings, one issue emerged that was not on their agenda. It was high enough on the list to be included in the final recommendations: re-structure end of life care.
This issue was not in the original charge of the Task Force. Was not an issue in their working documents, but emerged voluntarily from the people at these meetings.
This work group was to have reported to Congress and the White House and was to have had a hearing. None was ever held. It would be useful to go back to that report as we shape the present debate.
Jun 24, 2009
We need to change the language of the health care reform debate, or we will lose the chance for meaningful reform. We need to use words the public uses, or the reform debate will remain trapped by the two opposing forces of public vs. private. That is a Beltway frame, not the public's concerns.
Sure the public cares about costs, but they also care about accountability, responsibility, choice, fair play and efficiency. http://www.codebluenow.org/In%20their%20Voices.pdf
We have spent six years working in the field. We know the public will not move unless they think their concerns have been heard. They will only believe they have been heard if we echo their concerns back to them in their own language.
Remaining mired in single payer/public insurance vs. marketplace, or slinging accusations of "socialized medicine" will only turn the public off when it comes to reform. That fight erodes the areas of consensus and common ground that now exist. We need to build on that common ground with new language, otherwise, I fear, we will watch reform die still born, because we did not nurture a positive vision.
Cheers and more later.
Jun 08, 2009
Sunday's New York Times led with news that Obama is taking the lead on health care.
This is wonderful news because we need to bring to the health care reform debate the same clarity and integrity Obama brought to his presidential campaign: change and hope and vision of a positive future.
Changing the health care system will be a battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. If we are to win their hearts and minds the public will have to believe in their hearts of hearts that their wishes have been heard.
That's why we put the report in their words.
No other group in the country has been asking the American public what they want and value in a health care system. We have been doing that for over five years. We have valid data:
- We held a contest
- Worked on messaging and public will building
- Sponsored editorial series and town hall meetings
- Tested values and principles with market research surveys
- Partnered with other nonpartisan nonprofits
We ask you now to send our report to the White House, your senator and representative. Just copy and paste it into an e-mail.
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, urging them to focus on reform by using the key values in our report: ACT (affordable, accountable, accessible, choice, equity, efficiency and transparency/information).
If we can build reform around these values, we can cut across party lines and industry stakeholders and build a meaningful, sustainable health care system.
So, please share this information and ACT now!
Apr 29, 2009
What we are not hearing in the health care reform debate is a discussion of values.
It’s Time to Talk Values
What we are not hearing in the health care reform debate is a discussion of values. The debate gets mired down in whether health care is a right or a responsibility; whether it is government run or privatized. These are all off the mark. What the public cares about are simple things like accountability, affordability, protection and the assurance they can get care and that the care they get is based on some care guidelines and standards. They want choice and they think we need to get rid of useless redundancies and the tsunami of paperwork.
They are a practical people who want practical solutions so they can have a health care system that works for them not against them. Coming soon: In Their Voices
Feb 23, 2009
As we wait for a Secretary of Health and Human Services to be named, we think it is important to start to shape a fresh direction for a new health care system. We want to paint a positive picture of what that system could look like. So, over the next couple of weeks we will offer some ABCs of a new system.
These elements arose from five years active work on the ground with the American public. These elements can also be used to judge existing legislative proposals:
- Accountable: No accountability currently exists. Not of insurers to employers; providers to patient outcomes; patients to their doctors.
- A Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan type model adds accountability by tying insurers profits to specific performance criteria. (Profit Analyst Factors.)
- Accessible: Everyone needs to be covered. Unless everyone is covered the costs of care for the uninsured will continue to be passed along to those of us who have coverage.
- The easiest way to do this is to keep the employer-based system. 60% of all the people who have private health insurance have it through their employers. People can keep what they have.
- Affordable: Health care will only be come affordable if we cover everyone, have a basic set of benefits for everyone, and electronic medical records.
- Having one set of benefits as a baseline for everyone will reduce waste, administrative costs and errors; reduce confusion and reduce the need for eligibility and authorization verification of benefits. Employers and individuals can buy up, if they so choose.
- Basic Benefit Package: When we all have the same basic package, we will finally have the freedom to take any job we want. We will have more economic opportunities and choices, because our benefits will not depend on where we work. Employers and individuals may buy more benefits, should they wish and add more services, if they are willing to pay for it.
- This simplicity will not only give more people peace of mind, it will reduce administrative complexities and lead eventually to lower costs.
- Basic Benefits: Several different models exist for a basic benefit package: Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan; Medicare; Medicaid; state plans, such as Washington state’s Basic Health Plan. The critical issue is to select a package—which should include mental health as well as physical health.
Feb 09, 2009
Please pardon our hiatus! We moved our offices; were stranded in snow; were terribly snarled up with e-mail and server problems; were traveling to DC and back just before the Inaugural; were swept up in finding an article I wrote in 1959 on the integration of my junior high school in Arlington, VA and having a new article I wrote appear in the February 1st, Washington Post—nearly 50 years to the day Virginia schools were integrated and Obama became president.
This week we will be sending out a new Dispatch thanks to a grant from Democracy in Action. Nature and politics abhor vacuums, and with Daschle’s withdrawal from the HHS and White House posts, the old advocates and trying to push their “dead ideas” of single payer health care into the current vacuum. We want to paint a new picture. We will start painting that picture this week.
Pardon our long silence. We’re back!
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Dec 16, 2008
Never in the history of American Health Care have we the people had such a wonderful opportunity to participate in and shape health care reform. Between December 15th and the31st, Senator Tom Daschle, the soon to be Secretary to be of Health and Human Services, has invited people to hold their own community discussions on health care.
CodeBlueNow!’s mission has always been to engage the public in reform. Now the Obama Administration wants to hear from you. We urge each of you to host a community forum. It’s easy. Just click here and sign up.
We have all been working on health care reform for the past five years. Now is the time to really make a difference and host a meeting. The Transition Team will provide you with a moderator’s guide, so you won’t have to worry about leading a discussion if you are new to this.
There is no one perfect solution to our health care mess, that’s why it’s essential you participate. I don’t remember any other Administration reaching out to the public BEFORE they introduced legislation. If you want your voice to be heard, now is the time to speak up!
Please let us know if you will be hosting an event. I am hosting one on December 29th from 4 to 6 pm. If you are in Seattle and want to come by let me know. Space is limited so RSVP soon.
Another reason to sign up is that Senator Daschle will be attending one or more of these meetings.
It’s time your voice was heard. Host a meeting or attend one!
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Nov 26, 2008
I am grateful and give thanks to all who have joined in CodeBlueNow! these past five years. We have had numerous articles published my many participants; we held and participated in three successful Town Halls in Washington and Oregon; three of the finalists from our “Build An American Health System” contest have published books—Wayne Anthony, MDiv, MBA; Ivan Miller, PhD and Joan Richardson, MD.
Let’s all give thanks, in advance, over the opportunity for real, meaningful reform. We have a pragmatic President-elect who will work toward a centrist health care reform. His appointment of Senator Daschle to head Health and Human Services is a key indicator that he will let the Senate take the lead in passing reform. Kennedy is crafting bipartisan legislation for reform and Senator Baucus has circulated a White Paper outlining his ideas for reform and moves away from employer-based health care to individual mandates. And, in what at least signals a willingness to be at the table, even the American Health Insurance Plans, say they would support Universal Coverage through an individual mandate.
So, let us all be grateful for this alignment on the eve to the upcoming fight for health care reform. The outcome is by no means certain, but like a General planning the onslaught, I think, now for the first time, we have the right leader, strategist and advocates in the right places. Let’s hope this is finally, the right time.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you all for giving me the ride of my life! Hang in there with us as we paint the picture for reform in the year ahead.
Nov 11, 2008
Having followed health care reform for 30 years now, for the first time I see a ray of hope on the horizon.
The traditional health care reform debate has been trapped between two competing extremes: single-payer vs. marketplace solution. October 4th, Obama put those two choices to rest.
With the economic bailout, tax supported health care is not an option. And few would now hold up the marketplace anymore as our solution to health care. This means we have the rare opportunity to find the middle ground that our work shows the public so clearly wants.
We are largely a pragmatic people who want practical solutions. What we have found at CodeBlueNow! is that you get the best from the American public when you ask them to solve a problem. We started CodeBlueNow! five years ago to engage the American public in designing a health care system. Those findings are now reflected in our Voters’ Health Care Platform.
More consensus exists than we have been told in the past by the parties or single-solution advocacy groups. We need to focus on that consensus and press forward with a centrist solution to our nation’s more intractable problem.
Obama offers a fresh new voice. Please let us not get sidetracked by the dead-end conversations of the past. It’s time for a new way.
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Oct 29, 2008
Thanks to our Board member John Weeks and his work with The Integrator Blog, we have learned something about their respective stances on Integrative Medicine.
One of the findings from our work is that a solid majority of Americans want Complementary and Alternative (CAM) providers as part of a basic benefit package. CAM providers are: naturopathic physicians; acupuncture practitioners; chiropractic providers; and massage therapists.
We had looked for some stance on this issue from the candidates and heard nothing so stopped checking. Thanks to John for his work on this issue.
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Oct 21, 2008
From Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, October 21:
“Hawaii state legislators and Hawaii Medical Service Association officials last week criticized actions by Gov. Linda Lingle's (R) administration last week to end funding for Keiki Care, the state's universal health care program for children, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports (Altonn, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 10/17). Beginning Nov. 1, the state no longer will provide funding for the 2,000 children enrolled in the program, but private partner HMSA will pay to cover the children through the end of 2008.”
With Medicaid costs anticipated to increase 7.9% each year, states are going to be hard pressed to make some difficult decisions. I recall in 2003 or 2004, Mississippi was going to cut 13,000 Medicaid nursing home beds to balance the state budget. In 2005, state after state was struggling with how to balance its Medicaid budget. This from the New York Times in 2005: In Mississippi, Soaring Costs Force Deep Medicaid Cuts.
We cannot go back to the mindless “Rates, Regulations and Body Parts” Health Policy that we have in this country—at both the state and federal levels. The public does not want to balance a state budget off the backs of its seniors and children. We are a better nation than this.
We need to reach out to each other, find ways to build consensus, examine funding options and alternatives and create a path for reform. It is possible.
Oct 15, 2008
CodeBlueNow! was formed five years ago on October 24, 2003, from ideas that emerged in a national contest to “Build an American Health System,” with the intent of engaging the public and finding common ground on health care reform. One of the ten contest finalists, J. L. Richardson, M.D, has published a book, Patient Handbook to Medical Care: Your Personal Health Guide (Bend of the River Books, Miami, FL). Dr. Richardson’s book won a Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Award in the Reference Books category and will be exhibited at the Frankfurt International Book Fair from October 15-19th in Frankfurt, Germany.
Dr. Richardson’s book is the third book to be published as a result of the “Build an American Health System” contest which launched CodeBlueNow!. Since that time, two other books have been published by contest finalists: The Health Care Solution: A Strategic Solution for The Health Care Revolution, by Wayne B. Anthony, M.Div., M.B.A., CEAP, SPHR (Book Publishers Network, June 2005) and Balanced Choice: A Common Sense Cure for the US Health Care Systems, by Ivan J. Miller (Authorhouse, 2006).
The contest itself emerged from the publication of CodeBlueNow! Founder and CEO, Kathleen O’Connor’s, book: The Buck Stops Nowhere Why America’s Health Care Is All Dollars and No Sense (Hara Publishing Group, April, 2001).
“When you think of how limited our resources have been and how vast this industry is, I am encouraged by our accomplishments. I cannot even begin to count how many articles and seminars have come about as a result of the contest and CodeBlueNow!’s determination to give the public a voice,” observes O’Connor.
Since its inception in 2003, CodeBlueNow! has: Conducted a pilot project in Oregon; published a 10 week series of editorials in the Seattle Post Intelligencer; conducted two market research surveys to learn what the public values in health care reform and surveyed the members of over 15 organizations to validate the results; and created the Voters’ Health Care Platform as the culmination of this Phase I work. The Voters’ Health Care Platform has now been sent to every governor and senator who is not up for election, setting the stage for Phase II which may include: A public education campaign; a national survey focusing on delivery system, financing and management options; and a pilot project on state-level reform.
“More common ground and consensus exist than the parties or the pundits report. We will never get to significant reform without acknowledging common ground and consensus and building on it,” O’Connor stresses.
CodeBlueNow! is a 501©3 nonpartisan, national, grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to giving the public a voice in shaping a new health care system. The Seattle based organization conducts research, forges partnerships, builds consensus and creates a positive vision. www.codebluenow.org
Oct 06, 2008
There is one positive side effect of the Wall Street meltdown. It has essentially ended the dead-end stalemate of single payer vs. marketplace health care reform. Nothing will be left for government to fund health care. Those who want to leave health care to the market place should remain in their hiding pens for now. So where does this economic crisis leave health care reform?
Right where it should be—in the hands of the public. Fortunately, the public is not as divided on this issue as the parties and the pundits would lead us to believe. The reform debate has always been held hostage by partisan politics or groups with defined narrow solutions whose diatribes against each other have drowned out other voices. Thankfully, the majority of the people do prefer something practical with hope to solve the problem.
We would like to offer for public discussion, our Voters’ Health Care Platform. We think this is a solid basis to start a larger discussion of health care reform that the public would support. We think the need is urgent a people lose jobs and their benefits, more pressure will be put on already overburdened hospitals and their staff to provide care for the uninsured.
Not only that, but now more pressure exists on the states who must balance their budgets. As their revenues decline, there will be greater pressure on the states to cut Medicaid, which currently is the fastest growing part of every state budget.
More common ground exists than people believe. We need to start with that common ground and then build consensus.
Sep 18, 2008
If we ignored the candidates and instead sat down with each other, we could find common ground on health care. Governor Arne Carlson, R, Minnesota, outlined ways they created insurance pools for the uninsured and used a 2% tax on providers to finance the care. Minnesota now has 92% of it’s with insurance coverage.
These ideas and others will be explored with Governor Richard Lamm, D, Colorado, at CodeBlueNow’s Health Care Town Meeting on Thursday, September 18th at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on Seattle’s Waterfront. The program starts at 7pm. Registration fee: $10.
Kathleen and Governor Carlson will be on KUOW “The Conversation” at 1 pm PDT, Thursday, September 18th. Out of town listeners can go to: www.kuow.org
They were on the Dave Ross Show on KIRO 710 yesterday. You can find out more here.
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Sep 10, 2008
By Robert D. Ray, R, former Governor of Iowa and Paul G. Rogers, D, former Congressman from Florida
This is the last of the rerun of the CodeBlueNow! Papers. This piece ran in December 2005. The points of affordable, quality, safety and administrative simplification still hold, but starting next week, we will start to introduce some elements CodeBlueNow! has been working on and refining over the past five years.
Over the past several weeks, prominent individuals have been writing about the problems in our health care system and the need for comprehensive health care reform to fix those problems. It’s good news that there are solutions that can provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans. And those solutions are not only doable, they are affordable. In fact, the cost of inaction – of not doing what is necessary to fix the system – is greater than the cost of needed action. It is not more money we need; it’s a better system for delivering and paying for health care, and we need it now.
A recent international survey released by the Commonwealth Fund reported an astonishing finding: of six Western nations examined, the U.S. leads all of them in the number of medical errors, out-of-pocket health care expenses, and people going without health care services due to costs. And this is in spite of the fact that the U.S. spends twice as much per capita on health care as any other industrialized nation in the world.
The fact is, we can change the system, and we can afford to pay for it, as well.
Like CodeBlueNow!, the National Coalition on Health Care is rigorously non-partisan. Our Honorary Chairmen are former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford. Our members are major businesses, unions, patient advocacy and consumer groups, associations of health care providers, health and pension funds, insurers, and religious denominations. We believe that an effective response to our health care crisis is more than urgently needed. But it requires leadership. Now.
Aug 27, 2008
By Gary Erickson, Owner and Founder, Clif Bar, Inc.
This paper was originally published as a part of the CodeBlueNow! Papers series in November 2005 in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
About 15 years ago, from a garage I shared with my dog, assorted outdoor gear and a couple of trumpets, I founded the business that would become Clif Bar, Inc. Back then, it seemed natural to combine my passion for endurance sports with a lifelong love of food and pleasure at the table.
Today, Clif Bar is the leading maker of organic and natural energy foods and beverages. You may wonder what I have to add to the discussion about health care. Truth is, I think a lot about the health and well being of my Clif Bar colleagues and our consumers. At its very core, this company is about health.
Clif Bar makes energy products for active people to enjoy while they’re out pursuing their passion. We make healthful products, based on sound nutritional science. Unlike most of the chemically-laden products in the sports nutrition field, Clif and Luna bars, gels and beverages are made without artificial ingredients and harmful trans fats. We’ve converted many of our products and ingredients to organic because we feel that this form of agriculture is better for our planet. We are proud to sponsor athletes of all ages and abilities because we model healthfulness in all aspects of our business.
A focus on health also translates to the way we treat our employees. I’ll give you some examples. In our Berkeley, Calif., headquarters, home to about 100 employees, there’s a full gym offering about 25 fitness classes, all during business hours. We have four personal trainers working full time to help our employees stay strong. We keep a couple of loaner bikes tuned up and ready to go, so that employees can pedal, rather than drive, to complete local errands. Employees can take part in company sponsored bike rides, ski trips and other outings – strictly optional activities, but you may be surprised at how popular they’ve become.
Aug 19, 2008
By Steve Case, Co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution, LLC
This paper was originally published as a part of the CodeBlueNow! Papers series in November 2005 in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
I’m often asked why I chose to enter the health care industry, and become an advocate for sweeping change, even though I have no real background in the field. The answer comes from personal experience. Even a family as fortunate as mine isn’t immune from the problems that everyone else faces in dealing with the health care system. In its most extreme form, I saw caring doctors and nurses trapped in an inhumane bureaucracy when my brother, Dan, died from a brain tumor in 2002. And, on the more run-of-the-mill side of things, as a parent, I’ve been frustrated when a child has developed a fever or a twisted ankle on a weekend – and the only choices were waiting until Monday to see a doctor, or going to a hospital emergency room.
In these experiences, and others, I’ve seen a system that fails to put the patient first. I’ve seen waste we wouldn’t tolerate in other industries. And I’ve seen doctors and nurses unable to spend time doing what they do best: taking care of patients, not filling out forms or dealing with paperwork. It doesn’t have to be this way. At Revolution Health, I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak, by investing in ideas fall into three categories: content, coverage, and care.
By “content,” I mean that every person should have access to the information and tools needed to help make the best health care decisions for your family. Right now, you can pick a restaurant online – why shouldn’t it be just as easy to find the right doctor on the Internet? Right now, your kids can research their homework online – shouldn't you have equally easy access to the latest fact-checked information about an ailment that you or a loved one has contracted? Right now, you can manage your financial records or bill paying online – shouldn’t you be able to do the same for your personal health records and health care finances? Right now, you can easily connect online with folks who share your interest in needlepoint, or motorcycle riding, or baseball teams – shouldn’t there also be a place to connect with those who share your health concerns, when you need support, information, or comfort? At Revolution Health, we’re building an online portal that will meet these needs, and many others.
Aug 12, 2008
By Elizabeth A. McGlynn, PhD, RAND Health
I work at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.
At RAND Health, where I am the associate director, we study problems related to the costs of health care, access to the health system and the quality of medical care.
For nearly 20 years, I've been investigating how well the U.S. health care system delivers services that are consistent with professional standards and good science. I've found that most people assume they are already getting top-quality medical care – but unfortunately, this is often not the case. People are dying needlessly as a result.
A major RAND study I led found that American adults on average get only about half of the health care services they need to prevent, diagnose and treat common medical problems that are the main causes of death and disability. The study found that the average adult needed about 16 health services – specific types of tests or treatments – over two years, but usually received only eight of those services.
Aug 01, 2008
Over a period of 10 weeks in the fall 2005, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a series of guest editorials, “The CodeBlueNow! Papers.” In preparation for our Health Care Town Hall on September 18th, we would like to publish some of these papers again. Although written three years ago, this was the beginning of our discussion which has now led to our upcoming Voters’ Health Care Platform we will be announcing on September 18th.
Please read and share:
Re-creating the Health Care System
by Arne Carlson, R, Minnesota and Booth Gardner, D, Washington (September 2005)
By way of introduction, both of us served as Governors for eight years: Minnesota and Washington. As Governors, we created MinnesotaCare and the Basic Health Plan in our states—programs to provide health care for hard working, decent people whose employers did not or could not pay for it. But that was ten years ago. Now these plans are being significantly altered, our economy has changed, and our political climate has eroded.
It is not just Minnesota and Washington. State after state is dismantling similar programs. In
Tennessee alone this year--to balance the state budget—over 191,000 adults will be cut from the
TennCare program. It will also cut benefits for hundreds of thousands of others because it cannot afford the $8.7 billion program. Missouri intends to completely dismantle its Medicaid program by 2008. Now, instead of working together to build programs, hundreds of thousands of people are without health insurance with precious few places to turn. This is not inconsequential—one of every five Americans under 65 has no health insurance.
Couple this with changes in the economy and it spells trouble. Jobs are being outsourced to other countries largely due to costs such as health care. This leaves even more people without health insurance, because under the current system when you lose your job, you lose your health care.
Special thanks to the Editorial Page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for their leadership and vision in publishing this unprecedented series originally.
Jul 25, 2008
Much of the health care reform debate now will be negative campaigning. All the other various reform groups will be focused on their ads and negative press, but CodeBlueNow! and a few other groups are bringing new possibility to the table.
Or country has had enough negativity – it’s time we rally around a fresh vision and take health care out of a partisan political fight. We are working on a health care platform for the people, a template we can then present to Congress. Another group is doing things in a positive way, also.
Faithful Reform, like CodeBlueNow! is a national, nonpartisan, 501(c)3.
Jul 18, 2008
This coming Tuesday, July 22, the American Health Insurance Association (the folks who brought us Harry and Louise), are starting their Campaign for American Solution, a “listening tour” combined with an advertisement and recruitment campaign.
The first event is a conversation with the uninsured in Columbus, Ohio. They are not saying how much money they are putting into this, but we are sure it is as much, if not more than the Health Care for America Now campaign which launched Tuesday, July 8th and makes no bones about the fact that they have a campaign chest of $40 million.
The steering committee consists of groups that gave half a million dollars to the campaign, something that most organizations could never afford no matter how good their work is. This Tuesday, July 15th, the National Coalition on Health Care launched its campaign to put aside partisan politics and act on reform. Their principles are outlined in their letter to Congress, and are very similar to our own. Consumers Union has a bus tour on health care reform, Cover America Tour.
Clearly health care reform is a hot issue and lots of new groups are trying to tackle it in their own way. Well, we’re doing things differently. We aren’t collecting stories, we aren’t launching ads, and we do not have $40 million.
We have a quiet campaign, which has been spending its time doing very important work in the background. What we bring to this myriad of health care groups, is the Declaration for the Health of America and solid market research, two ways we are spreading our message that Americans do largely agree on what reform should look like. CodeBlueNow! knows the public is not as conflicted as all these different groups and politicians make it seem. Our good work is publicity such as our July 2nd op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and our upcoming Town Hall, and ongoing research to prove that reform does not have to be a divided process.
Don’t let both politics and the grass roots be dominated by big money. Support the campaign that knows the American public is vastly smarter than they are given credit for when it comes to health care. Support CodeBlueNow! today.
Cheers and more later. Kathleen
Jul 15, 2008
We don’t usually focus on the negative aspects of health care because nearly everyone else does. But, this particular episode from a friend caught our attention on some of the idiocy that happens. This from Mary Koch in Omak, Washington.
Lady Liberty Reigns: A Widow Bit
My mother slipped her halo just in time to avoid the rockets’ red glare.
Three months ago Mom, 91, fell and broke her neck. She ended up in a device called a “halo,” which is literally screwed into the patient’s skull – like Lady Liberty’s crown – to anchor four vertical titanium rods that point into the air several inches above the patient’s head. The halo keeps the neck absolutely stable while the broken bones heal – for three months.
Mother’s beloved granddaughter calculated the timeline and said cheerfully, “Well, Grandma, if you’re still wearing it on the Fourth of July, we can use it to launch bottle rockets!”
It was that kind of humor, plus her own faith and determination, that would get Mother through the three-month ordeal. She posted a sign by her bed, pronouncing: “Blessed is she who breaks her neck, for she shall wear a halo.”
Late in the afternoon on the Friday before the Fourth, we visited the neurosurgeon. He would remove the vertical rods, send Mother across the street to the hospital for X-rays, and if the bones looked good, the halo itself would go. Problem was, he couldn’t find the proper-size wrench to remove the rods.
The tool he had in his office “fidn’t dit,” as my late husband would have said. The doctor excused himself, ran across the street and returned with an automobile tool kit – the kind you get with expensive, luxury cars. Nothing fit. Finally, his nurse called the medical device company that had supplied the halo. Apparently there is only one halo wrench in all of the greater Tacoma metropolitan region, and the technician was loathe to let go of it late on a Friday afternoon. Someone else might need screwing or unscrewing over the weekend. After intense negotiations, this unique and highly valuable piece of medical equipment was delivered in a brown paper bag and the rods quickly removed.
The surgeon put a temporary brace on Mother’s neck to stabilize her for the trip across the street in her wheelchair. Despite the doctor’s specific orders to remove the brace for the X-rays, the technicians said they weren’t “allowed” to. I don’t know if I was “allowed,” but time was a-wasting, so I took it off. Mother remained in good humor as the technicians posed her in one odd position after another. When they had her raise one arm straight up and cross the other over her chest, she intoned, “I pledge allegiance . . .”
After many communication failures too exasperating to describe, the doctor eventually appeared. By that time, his office was closed, so we couldn’t return to remove the halo. (What!? They don’t trust the surgeon with a key to his own office?!)
BUT, he had the precious wrench, in its brown paper bag, and there, in the radiology waiting room of Tacoma General Hospital, he removed Mother’s halo.
No bottle rockets for Mom, but the brilliant fireworks displays on the Fourth paled in comparison with our pride and joy in her determination and resiliency.
Mary Koch, Freelance Writer & Editor