It was a totally energizing experience (again) to spend the better part of a day with friends and allies to the cause of healthcare reform. It was made doubly enjoyable by getting to hear from, and speak to, Dr. William Hsiao, Harvard Professor of Economics and healthcare architect.
An estimated 175 people were on hand on a Sunday afternoon in St. Paul to hear Dr. Hsiao’s address. The topic, of course, was healthcare reform and a description of the role he has played over the years in helping to design customized systems. It was impressive in that giving up a Sunday afternoon in September in Minnesota requires a real commitment to a cause; these people have it. Dr. Hsiao seems to be as sincerely passionate about improving healthcare as anyone I’ve come across. Obviously, he knows his stuff and he communicates his message in a disarmingly powerful way. To say that his message was welcomed would not do it justice. He imparted some insight into not only the healthcare system, but the techniques that have been effective in moving substantial changes forward at various levels. For that the audience was quite appreciative and rightly so. The ongoing struggle to bring about change has been spread out onto so many fronts that it becomes increasingly difficult to focus energy on a specific goal, as the field seems to constantly be shifting in front of us. Clarity will lead to focus, which will give way to progress. His presentation had the compounding effect of not only helping to create focus, but also served to recharge the “batteries” of the advocates on hand. It was a day well spent.
Dr. Hsiao’s bona fides are as follows: Prof. William Hsiao is the K.T. Li Professor of Economics and leads a new program in health systems studies at the Harvard University. Hsiao received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. He is also a fully qualified actuary with extensive experience in private and social insurance.
Mr. Hsiao has conducted national health system reforms for more than two decades. He led the team that designed the Taiwan’s national health insurance. He has been actively engaged in designing health system reforms and universal health insurance programs for many countries, including the USA, Taiwan, China, Colombia, Poland, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sweden, Cyprus, Uganda and South Africa. He developed an analytical model that can diagnose the causes for the successes or failures of national health systems. His analytical framework has shaped how we conceptualize health systems, and has been used extensively by various nations around the world in health system reforms. Meanwhile, Hsiao tests his model by conducting large scale social experiments in several developing nations, including China.
Hsiao was elected to be a member of the Institute of Medicine, US National Academy of Science. He was also elected to serve on the Board of Directors, National Academy of Social Insurance. Hsiao was named the Man of the Year in Medicine in 1989 for his development of a new payment method (the resource-based relative values) for physician services. He has served on the boards of many community organizations including hospitals.
Dr. Hsiao has published more than 170 papers and several books and served on several editorial boards of professional journals. He has served as an advisor to three US presidents, the US Congress, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and International Labor Organization. He is a recipient of honorary professorships from several leading Chinese universities and has earned several awards from his profession. ~
Okay, so what’s on the immediate horizon? Meetings with a number of our alphabet-soup of allies including MUHCC (MN Universal Health Care Coalition), PNHP-MN (Physicians for a National Health Program), TAMN (TakeAction Minnesota), MNA (MN Nurses Association), LSP (Land Stewardship Project), AMC (Association of MN Counties), and a couple more. Together we will map out the strength and direction of our efforts over the next 12-24 months. The issue of accountability with HMOs (see front page) will continue to be a large part of our focus. It’s visible and common sense, and people understand the issue, as well as what we’re asking for; namely clear accounting for billions of dollars in tax money turned over to the HMOs every year. Your participation and input are always welcome and encouraged.
And one last reminder… Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D participants begins October 15th and ends on December 7th. That’s a bit earlier than previous years and also a slightly longer enrollment period, but don’t wait until the last minute if you want to get some help comparing or changing plans… call and make an appointment early.
Peace… and good, affordable, accessible healthcare to all!