Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Little Madness in the Health Care Spring
A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome for the King.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

May 20, 2012 - It’s spring.  Flowers are blooming. Grass is greening. Trees are leafing.  Hormones are soaring. Dreamers are dreaming.    And I am wandering about what to write about health reform and health innovation.
There’s really not much to say.  It may be Spring, but most of us in the health care community are waiting to see what Summer and Fall snf Winter will bring.  We’re waiting for what the Supreme Court has to say in June.  And after that, what the electorate has to say in November.   And after that, what the Lame Duck Congress will have to say until January.  And after January, what the newly resurrected and reconstructed government has to say going forward – or backward.
What I would like to see is a wave of innovations,  new insights, new connections,   new breakthroughs,  new individual freedoms, new bottom-up developments, and new efficiencies based on unleashed human creativities.
Asking for such a wave may be asking too much.  It is asking for a change in the human and media mindset , that hype from the top will change the human condition,   that the future is not embedded in the present,  that  we can quickly lighten the debt burdens in our backpacks,   that federal entitlements can be replaced by individual responsibilities, and that there will be something new under the sun.
Still,  I have this hope and dream that we put matters of health reform in context.
·       That as a mature society we recognize that death, disability, home care, and hospice care are inevitable with aging.

·       That half-way technologies – such as joint replacements or heart repairs  or cancer breakthroughs – will not save us from the Grim Reaper.

·       That  medical care aacounts for only 10% of overall health and that clean water,   clear air,  personal behavior,  genetic predisposition,  and  social and economic deprivations  are much more important.

·       That most of the social factors in our society that lead to poor health and poor statistics  in our society – poverty, domestic violence, carnage in the homes and on the streets,  health illiteracy, cultural differences – are beyond the reach of the medical profession.

·       That wellness and a sense of well-being are a function of our culture and not necessarily of our health system.

·       That the American health system performs superbly in treating coronary heart disease,   malignancies,  diabetes, and degenerative joint disease  - indeed, much better than other countries.

·       That our health system is a product of our culture, its misbehavior,  and its expectations,  rather than  of greed engendered by our capitalistic  free-enterprise health system.

·       That health care innovation is more likely in a free-market system than in socialist systems.
·       That we ought to retain some features of the current health system while rejecting those features that limit freedom, choice, and innovation.

Tweet:  Spring is here, and with it  come dreams of a better health system – after the Supreme Court and the electorate have done their work.

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