• WisBusiness


MADISON -- Experts convening at a WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com event on Sept. 19 often agreed on the problems facing health care in the state and nation but didn't come to a quick consensus on the right fix.

The ``Diagnosing a Policy Fix to U.S. Health Care'' forum was convened to discuss a complicated topic that has bedeviled policymakers for years and likely will for the near future.

``There will never be an end to reforming health care,'' said Greg Scandlen, a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and president of Consumers for Health Care Choices who encourages more consumer involvement in the health care system. He said sometimes reforms have worked for a time but then failed to sustain. ``All of the problems will never be solved.'' See Scandlen's powerpoint presentation.

Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and author of ``Parting at the Crossroads: the Emergence of Health Insurance in the United States and Canada,'' said political choices in the U.S. and Canada resulted in two very different systems. The result in the United States is a ``300 million-tiered system. Everybody has their own (health care coverage).'' She noted that while the Canadian system is more simple, it has court challenges, cost demands and consumer complaints as well.``Privatizing certain parts of the Canadian system are being discussed'' because of ``an erosion of confidence in the system'' among some, she added. See more on Maioni's book.

Dr. Ken Thorpe, professor and chair at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and the executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, sounded a hopeful note by saying the plans of Barack Obama and John McCain have more things in common than press accounts have portrayed and that states like Vermont and West Virginia are becoming models in updating a 1950s era health care infrastructure to combat costly chronic disease.  ``It's too big of an issue that affects too many people,'' he said. ``We've got to find a bipartisan method to do it. ..I'm looking for some common ground ...on the issues of affordability and quality.''

That method shouldn't be how the Clinton administration tried it 15 years ago. ``I learned a lot about how not to do this,'' said the former deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. See more on the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease: http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/

A panel discussion with top state experts gave attendees insight into the specific problems faced by Wisconsin policymakers in tweaking an ad hoc system.

The conference was organized by WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com and sponsored by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, the Marshfield Clinic, Security Health Plan, Dean/St. Mary's and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc. The Government of Canada was an event partner.

See the conference at Wisconsin Eye:

  • Dr. Ken Thorpe, and Greg Scandlen keynotes.
  • Panel discussion with: state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton; former Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary George Lightbourn; Joy McGlaun, senior policy advisor for health care on the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging; and Dr. Doug Reding, vice president of the Marshfield Clinic and chair of the Clinic's Government Relations Committee.
  • Antonia Maioni keynote.




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