The buzz of health, politics

John Taylor: September 19, 20120 Comments

Cram 200 California hospital executives into a San Francisco hotel for two days. Then stand back and absorb the analyses and predictions. Some examples:

  • The public and the voters believe hospitals are ripping them off. What lies ahead? A Public Utilities Commission to oversee hospital rates and earnings. Hospitals will be commoditized like any other utility. If you impose that kind of regulation on hospitals, will that include other providers – clinics, private practice docs?
  • Unless you’re a Sacramento insider, there’s a new verb to learn – “speaker-ized.”  Definition: When the Assembly speaker tells his majority party delegation that a piece of legislation will pass – there will be no amendments or back talk. Origin: the labor-controlled political machine.
  • In the future, if a patient is referred to a specialist it will be a signal of failure in healthcare. Money will be removed from the business of illness and shifted to the less-costly pursuit of ensuring wellness. Primary care docs will be paid more, and specialists much less. And advanced practice nurses will be key players, especially in determining patient access to physicians. The mantra of evidence-based medicine will become practice-based medicine.
  • With sweeping change afoot in healthcare, critical ingredients will be quick wins – immediate gratification, little successful tweaks – in making process improvements.
  • Eight states this November will determine who will be the nation’s next president. Distilled further, the outcome will hinge on 50 counties from among the nation’s roughly 3,000.

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