With the SOTU starting in just a few hours, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released a statement by its President and CEO: The State of the Union's Health Care. Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey notes:
The puzzle over what to do about the high costs of health care—who pays for it and are we getting what we pay for—has confounded every Administration since Truman’s 60 years ago. Now President Bush will take a renewed crack at it in his own State of the Union speech tonight. Once more, we’ll all be listening because it affects each of us.
Inside the Beltway, partisan positioning impedes the search for solutions. Meanwhile, the needs of patients and the quality of the care they receive seem to get sidelined in the political discussion.
Outside the Beltway, there is hope. Hospitals, providers, researchers, philanthropies and savvy communities are inventing new ways to slow down health care inflation while improving the quality of care, patient outcomes and the health of the public.
Her recommendations for targeted zones to focus on immediately include:
- Better manage budget-busting chronic medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
- Halt the epidemic of childhood obesity.
- Accelerate the switch to electronic record keeping.
- Reward results and make them public (pay-for-performance incentives).
- Invest in prevention.
- Cover the uninsured.
Laudable goals that build on what she called an "evidence based formula" and ones that should come as no surprise to the professionals who work in the public health and medical care worlds - and yes, they aren't always the same thing unfortunately. The health system and disease system still compete for the limited resources of individuals, businesses and the country as a whole. "Follow the money" never rings so true as when it's applied to this inbroglio.
Nevertheless, as I read her comments, I couldn't help but recall an earlier call for new approaches to health promotion and health care. Here it is in a nutshell of sorts.
As true now as it was when it was first created. I have a meeting tonight that is managing on-going efforts of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC) to provide recovery support to the victims of the Katrina hurricane so I may miss the SOTU (a little iroric I suppose). Any comments you have on it, especially as it will focus on health care initiatives according to the advance publicity, please feel free to share here. Maybe the social marketing community (domestic and international) has some ideas of how we move forward to address health issues in 2006.