Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health Care Reform Messages

Every day in the national media there are reports of the debates, discussions, proposals, and controversies about national health care reform. This is a very complicated arena.

Here are the highlights of CHADD’s priorities for health care reform (as of today).

CHADD, as a member of the National Health Council Voluntary Health Agencies, advocates five principles in addressing health care reform, as part of the Council’s “Campaign to Put Patients First” initiative:

1. Cover everyone.
2. Curb costs responsibly.
3. Abolish exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
4. Eliminate lifetime caps.
5. Ensure long term and end-of-life care.

At CHADD’s encouragement, each NHC principle includes an emphasis on “non-discrimination between health conditions.”

CHADD, as a member of the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, advocates the following priorities for mental health in health care reform:

6. Parity for mental health conditions in health benefit design; something stronger than “nothing in this legislation shall prevent implementation of mental health parity” and adequacy of the mental health benefit for subpopulations, such as children.
7. Chronic Care-Chronic Condition Management must include mental illness and mental disorders, such as serious and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, co-occurring physical illness and mental illness such as health attack/stroke and depression, and co-occurring mental disorders such as the AD/HD child mental disorder co-occurring prevalence data. Focus on lifelong disorders.
8. Encouragement of the “medical home” concept whereby professionals take responsibility for coordinating, integrating, and communicating services and supports. Included in this are consumer-family access to electronic medical records and implementation of personal health records.
9. Affirmative provisions dealing with racial and ethnic disparities, and affirmative provisions recognizing “disability based health disparities.”

There are many other important priorities. These are CHADD’s current priorities, through our membership in these two coalitions. CHADD belongs to many other Washington, DC-based coalitions.

Let us know if there are any very important principles missing from our current priorities. Get involved with your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress to ensure that these priorities are included.


You can read this blog and others like it at the HealthCentral website.


wordsmth said...

I had hoped that this posting on health care reform was in jest, but it appears to be serious. There's little reform in those 5 points, and most real reform proposals are excluded.

Let's focus on point 2, "Curb costs responsibly." Certainly "responsibly" is open to interpretation, but it often is approached from the standpoint of "what can we cut?" Totally left out of the debate are such factors as encouraging health and wellness. A huge chunk of our health care costs arise from avoidable conditions--obesity, lifestyle choices (smoking, for instance), inactivity, and so on. These factors are responsible for a large number of cancers, a substantial rise in diabetes, lung and circulatory impairments, and so on. If we address obesity and lifestyle choices, and encourage health and wellness, we could substantially reduce health care costs.

We also need more transparency regarding costs. Currently, there's almost no connection between the patient/client and the actual cost of health care. Some physicians prescribe MRIs and CT scans the way physicians 30 years ago prescribed antibiotics. And today's patient doesn't see the $2,000 bill; they see a small co-pay for the scan and another for the physician. If you're endorsing a "Campaign to Put Patients First," then let's actually empower patients.

Finally, Point 5 calls for ensuring "long term and end-of-life care." Difficult to argue against that, but a huge amount of Medicare and other health costs are consumed in the final weeks of life among the elderly. If you're endorsing a "Campaign to Put Patients First," then why not endorse a "Death with Dignity" approach, or at least one that fully respects the wishes of the patient.

I'd encourage CHADD to consider these factors as it engages in the health care reform debate.

Don Tepper
Former Coordinator
CHADD of Northern Virginia

Anonymous said...

Great blog entry!

Nancy Hughes said...

The NHC and its member organizations, including CHADD, work in concert to bring about systemic change in the health care system. We believe that health care can be both affordable and effective for everyone when it provides more coordinated care, improves patient outcomes, lowers costs to society, and keeps pace with biomedical innovation.

The Campaign to Put Patients First is about empowering people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers to speak up, share their stories, and advocate for the effective and affordable health care that we need. The first step to creating such momentum is to agree on core objectives. These objectives are summarized in the 5 Health Care Principles for Putting Patients First ( ), which are supported by 48 of the leading patient advocacy organizations in this country, including CHADD. ( )

Do the principles cover all possible elements of health care reform? No. But if we stay focused on these core objectives as we craft legislative language, we will go far in creating a patient-focused health care system desperately needed by people with chronic conditions.

Nancy Hughes
Communications and Marketing
National Health Council

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