Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bush to BUBAR Health Care

Fresh from BUBAR-ing education and the Middle East, President Bush turns his attention to health care. BUBAR stands for “Bushed Up Beyond All Recognition”.

With America’s health care system firmly in his sights, President Bush unleashed an Executive Order to make health care more transparent. That would be the cost an individual citizen pays, as both employers and the feds reduce their share.

During the Bush term the number of uninsured increased by over 6.8 million people. With new data due out soon, might the number grow to over 8 million additional uninsureds under the Bushwatch?

The President’s signature “No Child Left Behind” program turned into a profit windfall for education testing companies. Kaplan’s revenue grew exponentially fueled by the Bush testing maelstrom.

His Executive Order sets up the same profit making scenario for health insurance companies. They have the data that will be compiled and sold in the new health care cost/quality information business.

In Bushworld the individual consumer has more power than the government with its nearly 80 million covered lives to “negotiate prices”. With 2-3 million covered by High Deductible Health plans ready to bargain on price, who thinks physician behavior will flip anytime soon?

Secretary of Health and Human Services had this to say, "It will fuel a substantial amount of change in the way health care is ultimately purchased, but it will take time for that to unfold."

Yes, change is coming America, and watch your billfold….

For the Executive Order and my comments (in parenthesis) see below:

The order directs the agencies to:

_Use, where available, health information computer systems that talk to each other. That way, the health records of a veteran living in Maine can be viewed by a doctor working in California if the veteran needs emergency care there during a vacation. (Increase business for electronic medical record companies and those who write interfaces across systems)

_Enact programs that measure the quality of care, and develop those measures with the private sector and other government agencies. (note the private sector, the feds will contract this out, likely to a Bush friend like The Carlyle Group's Multiplan)

_Make available to beneficiaries the prices that agencies pay for common procedures. (The feds already have this data, but they will likely pay someone to compile and share it.)

_Develop and identify practices that promote high-quality health care. (Poorly defined measures, strict focus on outcome, incentive pay, competition, pay for performance will all contribute to the continued sub-optimization of America’s health care system)

"We're all about being cost-conscious," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. "It's just the American way. We clip coupons. We check for bargain flights on the Web. We carefully research major purchases. But when it comes to health care, we lack the tools to compare either quality or the costs." (The government already has many of the tools, but they want to get out of the paying business. To shift the responsibility for payment they need to shift the responsibility for purchase. America’s employers are not stepping up to fill the gap, thus it falls to the average citizen.)

Why didn’t Sec. Leavitt mention people scrimping for gas money? Next chunk out the pocketbook?

The Bush Health Care Plan, otherwise knows as “You Are On Your Own!”

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