Revisiting reform: Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Why do you suppose there is so much discussion about revisiting healthcare reform, Reform 2.0?

Is it because Congress failed to acknowledge that ninety-eight percent of healthcare is local; Hyperlocal?  I think the answer is a resounding yes.  What is hyperlocal?  You know the saying, “All politics is local?”  Well, hyperlocal is local on steroids.  It’s moms and dads making choices about who will care for their family.  It’s the doctor down the street, not the doctor chosen by some system.

Individuals see healthcare reform as “What’s in it for them—them is defined as anyone other than me” and “What will it do to me?”  Reform 1.0 isn’t viewed as improving my healthcare, few see it as meCare.  That is why when viewed nationally so many are against the current version of reform.

It’s not that nobody is interested in providing healthcare to those who don’t have it.  What concerns people who do have healthcare is their belief—which may have nothing to do with reality—is that to provide healthcare to those who don’t have it requires that those who have it to give up some of their benefits.  Those with healthcare coverage see reform 1.0 as a zero sum game; for someone to be better off I have to become worse off.

What has people talking about trying to kill the bill is that nobody who currently has healthcare believes they will see any net gain benefit from the bill—they will see a net loss.  If any benefit will accrue to those who presently have healthcare, they certainly can’t articulate the benefit.

To gain support for Reform 2.0, or whatever it comes to be called, reform must incorporate first person interests, not just second or third.  Does that sound selfish?  It may be.  However, they are toying with reforming a fifth of the economy and a service of which eighty percent of the people are generally pleased.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul, and doing so at a cost of a trillion dollars to tens of millions of Peters has not garnered a groundswell of support.  No PR firm has demonstrated that they are clever enough to make this appear to be a good idea.

For reform to pass, Congress must learn to conjugate the care verb: First person—iCare, meCare Second and third person—heCare, sheCare, theyCare, youCare. That about covers all the various forms of caring.

What Congress hasn’t come to grips with is that there is no meCare in heCare, sheCare, or theyCare—hence, people don’t care to support reform.

What do you think?

The effect of healthcare reform on others

Somebody had to do this, so it may as well be me.  Sometimes to bring clarity to issues, it helps me if I dumb-it-down.  Which got me to wondering, how would the whole healthcare reform debate play out with Mother Goose?  Here’s what I was able to learn from my interviews.

Jack & Jill went up the hill, Jack fell down, and learned Mother Goose’s insurance wouldn’t cover him because he’s not a real boy.  Having recovered, Jack was soon found not so nimbly jumping over the candlestick.  His charred wooden body is being sanded in an effort to heal the burns.  Not only is Jack not a real boy, he’s also not a candidate for Mensa.

They sent the Little Old Woman who lived in the shoe home with a can of Desenex because her AARP insurance had expired and Medicare told her she already used her share of the money.  Afterwards, she was interviewed by Planned Parenthood for an episode of “I didn’t know I was pregnant.”

And remember that tuffet upon which Little Miss Muffet sat?  It wasn’t the spider who frightened her away, it was the deductible she’d hay to pay to cover the rash she got.  She tried sussing out her own treatment using social media on WebMd.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat, but he forgot to disclose that when he completed his insurance application.  He now suffers anemia anonymously as his not so lean wife left him.

How about Peter Peter Pumpkin eater?  All that fiber blocked his colon—a little personal prevention could have saved him a lot of time posed in the Thinker position.

Mary and Little Bo-Peep had a little mutton for dinner which after having sat on the counter all day produced various toxins which were absorbed into their bloodstream.  This resulted in them being rushed to the Mother Goose Clinic with a case of food poisoning.

Simple Simon met a pieman who knew nothing of pasteurization.  Simple is sitting three seats away from Mary in the waiting room.  The Clinic has been unable to locate either of their records on their EHR which cost in excess of one hundred million dollars.

Old King Cole called for his pipe even though he had a severe case of sinusitis.  CVS was out of Z-packs, and home he went with just a tin of Prince Albert.

All the king’s men tried to make a meal out of Mr. Dumpty.  Several were to learn later that one can get Salmonella from eating a raw egg that had been tromped on by horses.

Pat-a-cake.  The baker’s man, not one for washing his hands before pattying his cakes, caused Tommy to be seen by an internist.  Apparently neither real men nor cartoon men wash there hands.

The Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick-Maker, were being treated for nontuberculous mycobacterial disease for poor hygiene having been found bathing together.

It was reported that Georgie Porgie who’d been kissing girls had made them cry when they discovered they had contracted the herpes simplex virus.  Their mother, embarrassed by the turn of events, reported to the school that her twins were out with the H1N1 virus.

The Three Blind Mice were found to have stitched themselves together after unsuccessfully trying to sew back on each other’s tails.  It was later discovered that the tails had been cut off by the Farmer’s wife with the Butcher’s knife.  The mice are suffering from septicemia.  The Crooked Man and Yankee Doodle are trying to ascertain why the Farmer’s Wife and the Butcher were later found hiding in the barn.  The Farmer’s wife is being treated with Effexor on an out-patient basis for clinical depression.  The Farmer was not available for comment.

It’s believed that Willie Winkie is suffering from a plantar wart after running through the town in just his nightgown.  Uninsured, he tried removing the wart with the knife he’d borrowed from the Butcher, only learn the knife had been recently use to amputate the tails of some handicapped mice.

Old Mother Hubbard, a spinster of questionable repute, upon learning that there were no bones in the cupboard for her dog Hannibal, began to get hungry herself.  She settled for a meaty broth, and fava bean soup, and a nice Chianti.  Polly was seen putting on the kettle.  The SPCA continues to look for Ms. Hubbard’s dog.

Is the term “Payor” healthcare’s oxymoron?

One of the great things about fall is that as I prune back the vestiges of my virtual garden I am able to collect basketful upon basketful of overly ripe metaphorical tomatoes, perfect for tossing at aberrant analogies and inappropriate idioms.

It’s a curious time.  We give away money to the middle class and rich so they can upgrade their BMWs on the backs of the poor.  The feds market that idea as though that pittance will either jump start the economy, or to hide the fact that that the administration has managed to budget for a nine trillion dollar deficit gap over ten years.

By now we know there are no quick fixes, no magic formulas for fixing the economy.  Finding a formula that works will be more difficult than learning how to neatly fold a fitted bed sheet.

“Is it the essential paradox of the age of Obama that we have to destroy the village in order to save it, bust the budget in hopes someday we’ll balance it?” Nancy Gibbs, Time, September 9, 2009.

“It takes an idiot to raze a village.” Paul Roemer, today.

Congress is trying to decide what the final bill will look like without ever having read the first draft.  How will we know when they have something that makes sense?  Do we watch the Congressional chimney to see if the smoke is white or black?  Does that mean we have a bill, or is it simply that the chef burnt the Peking Duck?

Then there are the payors.  Get me started, or don’t.  We all know that one of the driving factors for reform is the behavior of the payors.  A friend asks—for full disclosure I note that she is one of “them”—why do people view health insurers differently from auto, life, or home owners insurance.  She was serious.

Here’s my take on the answer.  If the health insurance firms provided life insurance they’d be exhuming the deceased and trying to prove they weren’t dead.  Car smashed, get a check.  House leaks, get a check.  Die, get a check.  Need surgery.  Not so fast.  Let’s see if you’re covered for that.  If not, whew.  If yes, let our doctors decide if you really need the surgery.  It won’t cost you a minute of your time as our doctors don’t even need to examine you.  You see how this plays out?

It happened to me after my heart attack, albeit with my disability payor, sort of the evil step sister of the health side.  My doctor put me on six months disability, naturally, the payor declined to pay.  There doctor, who never examined me decided I was fine, at least that’s what their letter stated.  How do we know these doctors even exist?  Have they ever been seen in the daylight?

Most Americans don’t believe that insurance companies are interested in helping people.  They like us fine when people are payors.  They are much less fond of us when people become patients.  It’s a simple matter of flow theory.  As long as the flow of cash is in-bound, all is well.  When people move to the dark side, from payors to patients, payors have no patience.

Is there anyone who believes that there is a single payor in the country whose mission statement says anything about doing all we can to help those who need us?  Of course not.  Payors have claims adjusters.  What is their role?  It’s certainly not to adjust the payment higher.

Do payors incent their employees to pay out as little as possible?  I believe they do.  Do payors penalize or retrain people who pay out too much?  I believe they do.  Do they design the claims and dispute process so as to make it so cumbersome on patients and doctors that parties give up prior to settling?  I believe they do.

I believe the payor business model is not much different from that of tobacco companies.  For years tobacco firms claimed there was no public evidence to support the fact that nicotine was addictive.  It turns out they buried the evidence.  Payors claim they are not bad actors.  Some claim the moon landing was faked.

I am a firm believer that pictures can sometimes convey more than mere words.  To me, this link explains a lot about what’s wrong with healthcare. Start playing at 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

Can HIT solve the healthcare cost problem?

The following is my new post in

What do you think about the idea?

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

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