Hi-Tech Health Care Reform
Global health care - particularly for poorer nations - has been a focal point at the Clinton Global Initiative since its inception. Whether fighting AIDS, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis or a myriad of other diseases - the commitments made to help the impoverished reach a level of physical health and wellbeing enjoyed by developed nations.
Ironically, in the fifth year of CGI, the hot topic of health care centers on the overhaul of the U.S. system.
Speaking to Maria Bartiromo just prior to CGI, former president Bill Clinton was certain that reform would be passed. While not explicitly saying he believed the final plan would include the so-called public option, he believes such an option would help lower costs, cover those currently uninsured, and provide a healthy competition to existing health insurance companies.
But on the first day of broadcasting from CGI, Maria Bartiromo sat down exclusively with WellPoint CEO Angela Braly who said the public option "presents a problem" for the industry and reform overall. Specifically, Braly said "a public option would make the private market much less accessible."
Braly was part of a panel at the week-long conference addressing the ability of IT to help improve patient care and reduce costs.
"We don't want to automate the process but make sure it's more effective," Braly said. Among the hi-tech initiatives WellPoint is involved in are telemedicine and allowing members to text message with physicians and health care workers to manage their illnesses.
But the technology would also allow doctors to see if a patient they are treating is also visiting other doctors without their knowledge. The biggest challenge, Braly says, is better coordination among the network of health care providers.
President Obama has already pledged $19 billion in incentives for doctors to use electronic health records - with some physicians able to receive as much as $44,000 for achieving the administrations desired goals.
While there's agreement from health care companies, doctors and politicians that health IT and record digitization is a key component of fixing the system and specifically controlling costs, the divergence of opinions on how to get there is just as aggressive as the broader debate in which it's contained.
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