I don't know about you, but this has been a really long week for me and I'm exhausted. It seems like every day is longer than the one before. I'm looking forward to some down time this week-end. But first, the news:
Anticipating the Supreme Court's decision continues to be the media's sport of the moment. Nobody has more to lose than people with pre-existing conditions. I can't bear the thought of losing coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, ending the legal discrimination against us. But health reform isn't just about health insurance, although that's a big part of it. But there has been a lot of funding of community health centers and consumer assistance units, innovation grants, and many other programs. Nobody knows what will happen to those programs if the law is struck down. Here's the great Don Berwick's take on health reform -- you may recall that he ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, responsible for implementing much of the law, until he had to leave because the GOP wouldn't confirm him and his recess appointment expired. One of the greatest minds we have on how to reform health care in America. David Lazarus argues that striking down part of the law -- the most likely scenario -- would throw the system into chaos and make it even more dysfunctional. Randy Barnett -- one of the architects of the legal challenge to health reform -- continues to misrepresent the legal arguments, offset (thankfully) by Families USA's Ron Pollack, who believes the law can survive even without the mandate. Meanwhile, the GOP is getting ready to celebrate -- although Speaker Boehner advises against "spiking the ball."
If you want to know what happens without reform, look at Texas, where there are millions of uninsureds, there have been deep cuts to social programs, and ER waits are as long as 24 hours. The worst calls we get are from Texas. There simply are no resources. People are suffering terribly. Are we going to allow the same thing to happen nationwide by not dealing with the problems in the system that sparked health reform? I hope not.
Can doctors learn empathy? That's the question Dr. Pauline Chen is trying to answer today. She says the answer's yes -- but my question is do they want to? Of course, some are fabulous -- but the ones who aren't empathetic probably don't see a need for change.
Finally, a warm welcome to Kevin Counihan, who is the new CEO of Connecticut's Health Insurance Exchange. He spent several years implementing Massachusetts reform, and then worked for a California company that helps states implement exchanges. I was fortunate to have a chance to meet him the other day and I was very impressed with his commitment and determination to do what's best for consumers.
And that's it for this morning. Have a great day and a great week-end! Jennifer