Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Insights at WMC's Madison Day, Feb. 23

Along with several others from Green Bay's Chamber membership, I attended the annual Madison Day event sponsored by the state Chamber, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. The speakers included four people from Washington, DC, with commentary on events transpiring there, and a panel on the health care cost dilemma. Following are some of the highlights that I brought back for you:

John Torinus, CEO of Serigraph, a 1000-employee West Bend printer and conservative Journal Sentinel columnist:
• “We have to bust the health care business model. The current one is busting every company’s budget, every government’s budget, the national budget, every school system’s. A just talked to an insurance consultant with 300 company clients. His 2010 insurance premium increases are in the 15%-25% range. Totally unsustainable.”
• “I don’t care about what’s transpiring in Washington or Madison because it doesn’t sufficiently affect me in a positive, solution-oriented way. Here’s what has to happen ...”
• I. Every American has to be engaged, fully engaged in their own health maintenance and sick care treatment. We have to stop removing them from the payment and responsibility process. That requires massive behavior change, and it all starts with their pocketbook. Every family needs to have a Health Savings Account with a high deductible plan. Their insurance can’t start paying for their care until well past normal year-to-year challenges of a healthy person.
• II. Put Primary Care back in a Primary Role. Use the Quadraphics model, whose cost of care is 40% below the Milwaukee norm. One key is Chronic Disease management, coordinated by an incented Primary Care physician. At Serigraph, we’ve hired a Concierge Primary Care Doc for our workforce. He helps with second opinions, runs interference where the patient doesn’t understand, is the primary care doc for those who don’t have one, deals with HIPAA-protected counseling.
• III. Use Centers of Value. Prices are chaotic, unrelated to market or quality. Know what the big costs are, and incent your people to go to the lower cost places that are known to have good quality ratings (accessible, low infection rates, etc.). We pay an employee $2000 to go to the provider with $15,000 hip replacements, avoiding the more expensive ones.
• When you consider that governments are averaging $15,000-$16,000 per family in costs, whereas the average is $12,000 and some companies like ours average $8,000, why isn’t there movement??? An automatic to begin the leap is to require high deductible HSAs, to begin engaging the employee in the decision-making process.
• Progress: The WHIO Health Analytics Exchange will bring better process to the provider marketplace.
• Transparency could be required at any time via Executive Order. Why isn’t it?

Another speaker was Dee Dee Myers, President Clinton’s press secretary, who had a number of interesting observations, including some funny ones:
• Washington, DC: A Work-Free Drug Zone.
• The Mayor’s 2010 Snow Removal Program: Spring.
• A man was drowning in the Potomac, and two people, a Republican and a Democrat, rushed to his rescue. The Republican threw him 50’ of rope, and said “The rest is up to you!” The Democrat threw him 200’ of rope, and then released the other end into the river.

• What has caused the current malaise of Partisanship:
Gerrymandering, where politics was used to make voting districts controversy-free ... either predominantly Democratic or predominantly Republican. As a result, an elected legislator has to appeal to a radical left or right electorate to get funded and re-elected. There is no virtue in the center or in collaboration.
The speed of media/communications technology, coupled with news media competition putting a premium on controversy. (“The problem is US. We care more about what’s compelling, not what’s truly newsworthy.”)
President Obama’s poor linkage between talking about the generalities of decisions, and actually making them. This is coupled with tackling too many big issues at one time, too little job security throughout the nation, and releasing too much control of the agenda to a dysfunctional congress.

Another speaker was Charlie Cook, a noted Washington-based political analyst. Among his comments and insights:
• “It ook Republicans 8 years to destroy their brand. It took Democrats just one year to do it.”
• Purple America is now dominant. Independents are 36% of the electorate, Democrats are about 34% and Republicans about 30%.

Tom Barrett, Milwaukee mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor: “People don’t care whether the person who picks up their garbage is a Republican or a Democrat, nor whether the person who removes their snow is a Liberal or a Conservative.”

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