BUMPED — Middle-School’s Back in Session — and, So is Congress: More Health Care Reform Hearings!

That light — in the distance — is most-definitely not the end of the tunnel — it is the oncoming train’s headlights. Confidential Note to Big Pharma: It is time. to. get. off. the. tracks.

This is the first of three hearings, due to be held in quick succession, before the November elections. . . . Expect much to be made of “profiteering” by pharma — as well as much rhetoric on “commerce coming before science” — again, in pharma. Here’s the run-down on the three scheduled hearings:

September 9 -– Improving health care quality –- examining the importance of measuring and improving the quality of care provided to patients in all settings and learning more about quality improvement initiatives in the private sector.

September 16 –- Delivery system reform –- creating a patient-centered model of care, understanding the importance of primary care and developing new approaches to shore up its role in the health system. [Potentially the most damaging — to Big Pharma’s “business as usual” models.]

September 23 –- Insurance market reform -– exploring ways to improve access to coverage through pooling arrangements, or through the creation of a health insurance exchange or “connector” -– connecting individuals, small businesses and those eligible for premium subsidies to available health insurance plans.

The Full Witness Line-up — for the first Senate hearing:



“Improving Health Care Quality:
An Integral Step Toward Health Reform

September 9, 2008, at 10:00 a.m.,
in 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Member Statements:

Senator Max Baucus, MT

Senator Charles Grassley, IA
[On Hearing day, you’ll be able to click on each name, above, for full-text, easy-view versions of the Opening Statements.]

Witness Statements [On Hearing day, you’ll be able to click on the names of the witnesses to see PDF files of their statements]:

Peter V. Lee, J.D., Executive Director, National Health Policy, Pacific Business Group on Health, San Francisco, CA

Samuel Nussbaum, M.D., Executive Vice President for Clinical Health Policy and Chief Medical Officer, WellPoint, Inc., Indianapolis, IN

Gregory Schoen, M.D., Regional Medical Director, Fairview Northland Health Services, Princeton, MN

Kevin B. Weiss, M.D., President and CEO, American Board of Medical Specialties, Evanston, IL

William L. Roper, M.D., M.P.H., Dean, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and CEO, UNC Health Care System, Chapel Hill, NC

By Order of the Chairman:

Max Baucus (D, MT),
United States Senator,
and Chairman, Senate
Committee on Finance

And By:

Charles S. Grassley (R, IA)
United States Senator
and Ranking Member,
Committee on Finance

We’ll have LIVE video, and when the below-light is “ON” — Live-Blogging NOW underway — so do join us!

We’re underway — the WellPoint MD is doing a nice job of laying out the case for preventing health issues — highlighting how much worse — the cancer treatment options are for African-American women, in particular — given how much more often they are, as a group, to remain undiagnosed for breast cancer, until much later in the malignancy phase.

These sorts of outcomes do not comport with a truly-civilized society, he here argues — and I agree.

Breaking away — to put up a new Vertex story, above. . . . back shortly.

Dr. Roper now addressing discretionary surgeries — and the drain that represents on an already-overburdened delivery system, by shifting resources away from primary care. That is certainly a fact.

Senator Salazar asking about setting standards for delivery — and economy — at end-of-life (where some 75 percent of all US health-care dollars are spent). . . .

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