John Taylor: December 26, 2007
Good (sober) conversation is always great to find at cocktail parties. Here is Part 1 of things you might want to ask or discuss -- before you get too comfortable (and call for your designated driver/cabbie).
- If you encounter a politician, ask him/her what their legacy will be -- what good works will they be leaving behind when they retire, get termed or voted out? Improving farm worker safety through legislation -- that works. Allowing $54 million in health care money (state/federal) to go somewhere other than Fresno County -- ugh. (If they start blaming other politicians or political parties, move on to another chat partner.)
- Here are two first-class web sites for those who want to do their homework on national and state budgets and health policy:
- There is the California Legislative Analyst's office --- www.lao.ca.gov It offers easy-to-digest stats on where we've come as a state and where (sigh) we seem headed again. If you're looking for just a few nuggets, these are drawn from a Contra Costa Times story about where California might find ways to ease its $14 billion deficit -- aka, closing tax "loopholes." -- End the home mortgage interest deduction. -- Stop excluding employer pension contributions. -- End the deduction for charitable contributions. (Enough to start a small war, you think?)
- There is the Commonwealth Fund, a private health-care think tank --- www.commonwealthfund.org It recently analyzed 15 strategies to improve the quality of care in this country while reducing the cost. One of my favorites on the list -- and the one purported to bring the largest cost savings ($368 billion over 10 years) -- is creating a "Center for Medical Effectiveness and Health Care Decision-Making." It would focus on what medical procedures work best and are most cost-effective. Look at it as a health-care Federal Reserve Board. Some will call it rationing. But rationing of a sort is already occurring at emergency departments -- and, remember, this topic is geared for a cocktail party. You are trying to promote engagement, not additional Cadillac margaritas.
More cocktail party prep in the coming days.