Yesterday's seven hour bipartisan extravaganza televised live on CSPAN gave viewers the opportunity to see first-hand why health reform has been stalled in Congress since January. Despite President Obama's efforts to highlight areas where Democrats and Republicans agree, the party-line talking points triumphed for most of the day.
Through all the talking, those of us who still believe reform needs to be comprehensive and not just about insurance coverage found small glimmers of hope. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a physician, spoke most eloquently of the need to better coordinate care and tackle chronic diseases by focusing on prevention. These ideas are central to controlling healthcare costs. Chronic diseases account for three-quarters of healthcare spending. Congress and the Administration must make every attempt to enact legislation that--at a minimum--includes prevention and wellness provisions to help drive down costs for chronic disease, thus driving down costs in the entire system. No matter which side of the aisle holds a majority, this is some common ground where we all can agree.