Monday, June 8, 2009

Daschle and Gingrich discuss healthcare

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich discussed healthcare reform during a panel discussion at the National Press Club sponsored by Volunteers of America. A video from an interview with the two men is below. It is nice to see both sides willing to have a reasonable discussion.

If President Barack Obama wants healthcare reform this year, he’s going to have to be flexible and accept “half a loaf” on certain issues Newt Gingrich, founder of the for-profit consultancy Center for Health Transformation, said. Congress and the administration “will get nothing” if they approach reform with an all-or-nothing attitude, he added. Gingrich acknowledged that the reform effort could get “locked up” by various demands, and possible push back from hospitals and doctors. Any healthcare-reform effort should emphasize wellness and best practices to eliminate waste from the system, Gingrich said, adding that he was in favor of 100% coverage—but not a single-payer system.

Tom Daschle, who had been nominated for HHS secretary, was not as optimistic about the chances of getting a bill through Congress. Cost, quality and access issues remain, “and so little attention has been given to long-term care” in this debate, said Daschle, who gave legislation a 50-50 chance of getting approved. He stressed the need for a priority for Health IT and stated that we need to "change the paradigm from illness to wellness" by addressing chronic care management.

Neither man thought Medicare was doomed, however, even though the trust fund is predicted to dry up in 2017. Congress will find a way to fix the problem, Gingrich said. “I don’t think it will run out of money.”