Live from WHCC: Focus on consumer

The World Health Care Congress featured several panels discussing some of
the key trends in healthcare. CMS Administrator Mark McClellan gently
sparred with Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt over pricing and coverage.
They agreed that pricing controls on pharmaceuticals were both unlikely and
probably unworkable. There was much less agreement on coverage. Medicare
currently covers expensive medications that are not covered in other
countries, and Reinhardt suggested that the US would have to face that
challenge. McClellan promoted changing the payment system to reward quality
and performance.

Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group's Bill McGuire, probably relieved to not be focusing on his personal financial news, laid out a vision of a consumer centered health system. There was broad agreement from John Brennan of Vanguard and Jim Guest of Consumers Union that simple consumer information was a necessary development to support this coming consumerization change. The Congress wraps today with White House point man Allan Hubbard laying out the Administration's health care vision.

- see my reports on The Health Care Blog

PLUS: The conference used a innovative audience response system, provided by
VisionTree on laptops and Palm Treos, which allowed instant polling and
questions from the audience. Conference organizers might be interested in
looking at it. Web site