The public increasingly is confused by the healthcare reform debate. That's the bad news.... And it's also the good news because time still exists for healthcare executives to influence the course of reform legislation.
Healthcare polling expert Robert Blendon of Harvard's School of Public Health recently told public opinion research leaders that the citizenry has little understanding of the various reform proposals. Furthermore, he said, what most Americans fear are possible cutbacks in their health insurance coverage through higher deductibles and copayments, loss of choice in physicians, and limits on tax-deductibility of their health insurance.
With the public about evenly split on the Clinton proposal, Congress is finding it difficult to agree on a course of action. Legislative leaders recognize that in order to pass major social legislation, it will be necessary to win a solid majority of the members of both houses, not a razor-thin margin.
In the absence of a groundswell of support for the Clinton plan and its onerous employer mandate, backing has been building for a more modest, go-slow approach that would focus on sorely needed insurance reforms and other incremental changes designed to allow more Americans to afford health insurance.
It's time for healthcare leaders to unite around plans offered by moderate members of Congress. At the same time, executives must make sure that initiatives to create local integrated delivery networks build medical-care delivery systems that work to ensure the wellness of all members of communities, not simply to protect the status quo for provider organizations.