Daschle: Why He's Good Choice for HHS

The appointment of Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services is a big plus for those of us (including myself) who believe that healthcare needs to be a front-burner issue for the Obama administration.

Mr. Daschle has long been involved in health care reform, even going back to the early 1990s when he played a part in Sen. Hillary Clinton's early efforts.

He wrote a book on the subject: "Critical: What We Can Do About The Healthcare Crisis."

In it, he proposed the creation of a Federal Health Board, similar to the Federal Reserve, which would

1) define a minimum health benefit
2) regulate insurance marketing
3) standardize medical records
4) set prices for new procedures

This would only apply to government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, VA) but private insurers could follow.

Mr. Daschle has also indicated he might support:

1) universal coverage through Medicaid
2) direct government negotiation for drug prices

While cries of "Socialist Medicine" will certainly be heard, and this deserves to be considered, the fact that there are 50 million people without healthcare in this country, that many cannot afford it, is simply scandalous and there needs to be proposals put forth to address that issue.

The question of course, is how much the economic crises will push healthcare reform to the back burner. This could be a problem for hospital and HMOs, who might delay spending if they don't know what the new landscape would entail or when reform might be forthcoming.

That is a problem for investors in healthcare companies, so the President-elect needs to give some kind of timetable for this series of reforms, once they decide what they want.

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