Experts discuss health care reform

January 8, 2009 9:39:16 PM PST
Some of the nation's biggest names in health care reform met in a closed-door workshop at Stanford. Among them was the newest advisor to the white house on health care.

There were a lot of very big names at this workshop. Two of the biggest were Doctor Ezekiel Emanuel, who is going to be the health care expert in the White House Office of Management and Budget. His brother Rahm is Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

Also at the workshop was economist Alain Enthoven. He is considered by many to be the father of managed care. ABC7 News asked them both, how do we move forward.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel believes that Barack Obama can deliver on his promise to reform health care, but a necessary first step is setting up what Emanuel calls, are called insurance exchanges.

"A place where people who are individuals getting insurance or small businesses or the uninsured can go and have a selection of standard plans from a variety of different insurances and companies, and get cheaper prices because they're grouped and pooled together," said Dr. Emanuel.

He says it's being done now in Massachusetts and it's working.

During the campaign Barack Obama outlined the idea, that the bigger the pool the lower the risk to insurance companies, and the more those companies would lower premiums to attack more customers.

"And that actually I think could be a very important game changer," said Dr. Emanuel.

Emanuel says it's up to the government to set up those insurance exchanges. One other big idea is to organize doctors into their own pools.

"In the modern age, this value of autonomy has turned out to be really dysfunctional, because many people have complicated conditions in which they need two, three or four doctors working on their cases," said Stanford economist Alain Enthoven.

Enthoven says organizing doctors into health care systems and paying them a salary instead of charging a fee for every doctor visit, has proven to be a better system.

"What Kaiser and Mayo for example are famous for, is teamwork, and to be a doctor there, you have to be a team player," Enthoven.

Enthoven and Emanuel said this economic crisis may actually provide an opportunity for change. More people are losing their employer provided health care coverage and doctors aren't that happy either.

"There is too much paper work, too many people overseeing them, having too bill having to appeal bills that get rejected. I think they're very ready for a change that is reasonable," said Dr. Emanuel.

The workshop at Stanford continues Friday, with the goal of finding a way to transition from where we are to where we want to be.


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