2:25 p.m. “Moving Forward On Health Care Reform” is the final panel at the Humphrey Institute’s four-day series of forums entitled, America’s Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by Lawrence Jacobs (Director, Center for the Study of Poltiics and Governance, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota). The panelists are:
* U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT)
* U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN)
* Jeff Korsmo (Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center)
* Steve Mahle (Executive Vice President of Healthcare Policy, Medtronic)
* Grace-Marie Turner (President of the Galen Institute)
2:29 p.m. Senator Klobuchar says Congress needs to address the geographic financial differences in the cost of health care as well as rural health care issues. Klobuchar believes health care will be the number one domestic issue in the next session of Congress.
2:31 p.m. Senator Bennett says that although almost everyone agrees that the health care system is broken, but that it never gets fixed. And, after attempts to fix it, there is usually ‘blood on the floor’ from the political battle. However, enough time has passed since the Clinton effort that now is the right time to try to get things done, and it is especially pressing because things have “only gotten worse” since then.
2:41 p.m. Senators Bennett and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have written a bill (The Healthy Americans Act), the premise of which is to put control of the services into the hands of the employees and out of the hands of employers to put market forces in play. He adds that Republicans have always – and correctly – opposed universal coverage. He says we have a defacto universal coverage system now and “it’s called the emergency room.”
2:47 p.m. However, Bennett says we do need to cover everybody – just not in the ‘frivilous’ and ‘expensive’ way we do it now through the emergency room system, and that Republicans must realize this. He says this is the “Noah’s Ark” bill, as they only accept co-sponsors in pairs: a Democrat and a Republican. The bill now has 16 co-sponsors on the bill, which Bennett believes will demonstrate to the next President that there is a bi-partisan approach to health care that is viable.
2:54 p.m. Bennett believes they have discovered the primary source of cost control in health care: quality. He adds that if every American got their health care in one of the top 3 regions for quality in the country (Salt Lake City, Rochester, MN, and Washington), the cost of health care would be one-third what it is today.
3:06 p.m. Turner says the issue of affordability is a given to any health plan, and the reason we don’t have affordable health care is that it is tied to the employer-based system. This linkable must be ‘unlocked.’ Turner is worried about having an individual mandate for coverage as part of the bill (problems being a shortage in the workforce as well as defining what is a minimum level of coverage and how that level might be too expensive for some people).
3:15 p.m. Korsmo says the jury is still out as to whether the health care work force could absorb the introduction into the health care system of millions of more insured patients, however that a more efficient system could probably handle this increase.
3:25 p.m. Mahle says there are perverse consequences with the current system, whereby there is little incentive, for example, for medical device manufacturers to make products that last longer.
3:26 p.m. Minnesota’s Republican Senator Norm Coleman is one of the co-sponsors of the Bennett-Wyden bill.