Wide-ranging healthcare reform at the national level will likely have to wait until the 2008 presidential election is completed, according to senior legislative aides who briefed a session at the Washington meeting of the Federation of American Hospitals. The aides, including members from both parties and both houses of Congress, told an overflow crowd incremental changes that boost health insurance coverage are more likely. The panelists also agreed that policy debates about universal coverage during the next two years will lay the groundwork for more systemic change in 2009.
Reporters were allowed to cover the event provided they not identify the panelists.
The federation kicked off its meeting with a speech from David Walker, comptroller general of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Walker spoke on entitlement spending and the need to reform federal healthcare programs and Social Security to avoid a long-term budget crisis. If theres one thing that can bankrupt us, Walker said, its healthcare.
The federation also said that Bruce Gilbert, general counsel for Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., was named chairman-elect of the federation for the next year. Gilbert replaced Keith Pitts, vice chairman of Vanguard Health Systems, Nashville. Pitts is chairman of the federation for the next year, replacing Victor Campbell, senior vice president of Nashville-based HCA. Campbell will serve as immediate past-chairman for a year. -- by Vince Galloro