From the Health Care Reform Newsmaker Breakfast meeting with Nancy-Ann DeParle, sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Families USA and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, in Washington, D.C.:
Just back from the newsmaker breakfast this morning with President Obama’s newly appointed director of the newly formed White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle. This is the third such gathering– the first being with Sen. Max Baucus, who discussed his week’s lunch plans, and the second featuring Sen. Chuck Grassley, who– incidentally– is seriously into Twitter.)
No one really asked the big question, about whether DeParle’s ties to industry will help or hurt the cause. And otherwise, DeParle stuck to the script: Health reform will happen this year, because the stars are aligned…although a bipartisan bill would be best, the priority is to get something–anything–even if it takes reconciliation, a confusing process that I don’t really understand, except that it allows a bill to be considered without fillibuster and therefore gives even more power to the congressional majority…and everyone is fired up. She also clarified that the public insurance plan option preferred by Obama to supplement–not replace– employer-based insurance need not take reimbursement cues from Medicare. A good thing.
One interesting comment concerned the medical home model, whose cost-saving potential she touted as one of the ways this reform investment would pay for itself. She said that medical homes may need to be run by some “new type of worker” who isn’t necessarily a doctor, or a nurse, or any kind of currently existing health care professional. What kinds of qualifications this person would have, she didn’t specify, but I think we can all imagine what she means: a multitasker on the macro level, someone who can efficiently and expediently coordinate each patient’s preventative, maintenance and specialist care, with an eye to cost control, such that physicians can act like physicians, instead of cat herders. It hadn’t occurred to me that, among this model’s many needs (health IT, more primary care docs, an adequate payment scheme, a magical leprochaun, etc.) a wholly new, as-yet undefined profession might be one of them. But is that bad or good? I’m not sure…
Anyway, the next breakfast, on April 28, will be with Sen. Christopher Dodd. Check back to see how it went!
—Denise Napoli (on Twitter @denisenapoli)