If President Barack Obama wants healthcare reform this year, he’s going to have to be flexible and accept “half a loaf” on certain issues, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founder of the for-profit consultancy Center for Health Transformation, said during a panel discussion sponsored by Volunteers of America.
Congress and the administration “will get nothing” if they approach reform with an all-or-nothing attitude, he added. Gingrich acknowledged that the reform effort could get “locked up” by various demands, and possible push back from hospitals and doctors. Any healthcare-reform effort should emphasize wellness and best practices to eliminate waste from the system, Gingrich said, adding that he was in favor of 100% coverage—but not a single-payer government system.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who had been nominated for HHS secretary, was not as optimistic about the chances of getting a bill through Congress. Cost, quality and access issues remain, “and so little attention has been given to long-term care” in this debate, said Daschle, who gave legislation a 50-50 chance of getting approved.
Neither man thought Medicare was doomed, however, even though the trust fund is predicted to dry up in 2017. Congress will find a way to fix the problem, Gingrich said. “I don’t think it will run out of money.”
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