Council Press Releases

July 11, 2008

Leading Health Policy Observer Expects Continued Tinkering Around Edges of Reform

Leading Health Policy Observer Expects Continued Tinkering Around Edges of Reform

NASHVILLE – Calling the health care conversation in this year’s presidential campaign “dispiriting,” a nationally renowned analyst told more than 250 Nashville health care executives that neither candidate would likely usher in any sort of widespread health care reform overnight.

Speaking at a Nashville Health Care Council briefing today, Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer said both Barack Obama and John McCain were short on details when it comes to their health care campaign platforms and that neither is saying anything substantively different than what’s already been said and debated.

“Campaign platforms are just that. Expecting a candidate to put out a full plan … is like buying a pet snake and teaching it to fetch a ball. It just won’t happen,” she said.

Dentzer said the issue of reform will be the major topic within either new administration though candidates are unable to address the tough decisions facing the health care system during the campaign season.

Right now, she said, the entire system is gridlocked in denial of the current and future reality and she questioned when the nation and Washington will move forward from tinkering around the edges of reform rather than tackle a broad solution. She noted the current debate over physician reimbursement rates as just one example.

During a question-and-answer session, Dentzer addressed such topics as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), medical tourism, retail clinics and the role of pharmacists in health care. She said there are predictions that the HSA phenomenon will likely be “the next sub-prime mortgage crisis,” with people walking away from large medical bills that they cannot afford to pay.

She also said medical tourism is becoming a viable option for many and, in some cases, is proving extremely efficient, effective and innovative. Dentzer said retail clinics have failed to grow as quickly as was once predicted and that it would take large volumes of customers flowing into such clinics to begin to show a major profit, since the majority of patients in such settings are there with minor illnesses.

She said, however, that the role of pharmacists in the modern health care system is extremely important to quality health care and would likely continue to shift from mom-and-pop pharmacies to big-box pharmacies employing highly educated, specially trained pharmacists with access to the latest technology and systems.

Today’s briefing was part of the ongoing programming provided by the Nashville Health Care Council to keep its members abreast of the latest health care issues and topics facing the industry. For more information, please visit

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