Egad! A gem in the jambalaya

John Taylor: March 20, 20070 Comments

There's a fine edge between genius and madness, some smart person once said. And there's just a balance sheet minus-sign, or an erratic freeway driver, separating most insured from bankruptcy and joining the nation's 47 million uninsured.

So I 'fess up to liking a policy being implemented at Baptist Health South Florida in which the five-hospital nonprofit hospital system gives preferential treatment to vendors who provide health coverage to their employees.

It's not the usual jambalaya of impossible promises and forgettable rhetoric that I have to sip and scowl at so often in helping Community Medical Centers to assess political initiatives.

Baptist Health serves a similar population as Community -- about 30% uninsured -- and gives away about as many millions in charity care, according to HealthLeaders magazine. So it jumped on an idea from a surgeon who suggested that one way to avoid catastrophic illness and encourage preventive care was to do business with folks who are not contributing to mobs waiting in the ER.

Of course, the insurance-preference part of Baptist's request-for-proposal will be only one thumbnail on the scale in deciding which contractor the hospital picks. And it could certainly carve out small folks like landscapers and window washers.

But good ideas stand up to refinement.  And smart thinking isn't limited to people whose names begin with "the Honorable."