Reform stays on track

Yesterday at the White House a group of representatives from various sectors of the health care industry met with President Obama to offer their long-term support for health care reform. Hospitals and physicians were there, as well as the health insurance, pharmaceutical industries and organized labor.

The meeting was noteworthy in that it keeps this very important discussion atop the national agenda and includes major stakeholders in health care. As the President himself said that some of the groups present yesterday had opposed previous attempts at reform. They now support it. That demonstrates that reform efforts this year are worth paying attention to organizations and special interests are now willing to put aside their differences to help find a solution.

While it is doubtful that a voluntary approach will result in dramatic cost reductions, the gathering of this group at the White House does signify the importance of inclusion and stake holder involvement. Our complicated, complex and costly health care system will, however, require much more. We still need a massive overhaul to keep costs in check, expand access and ensure quality and safety.

President Obama told the American public that reforming health care is crucial to stabilizing and growing our economy. I couldn't agree more. As I said most recently at the White House regional health reform forum in Greensboro, N.C., on March 31, we do not need to throw more money at the problem. The Obama Administration and the Office of Health Reform are on the right track. Our country needs to provide universal coverage, so that everyone has full access to the health care system. We need to invest in better IT systems that work more efficiently and effectively. We need to continue funding research to combat disease (and control costs). And, we can do all of this while improving quality.

We, as a nation, need to have the courage and fortitude to make reform a reality.

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