Sebelius, Cornyn share different views on healthcare reform at AHA's annual meeting

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) agree that "volume over value" is a concept that needs to be reversed in hospitals throughout America. But how this can be achieved is another matter. Each expressed vastly different opinions during an appearance this morning in Washington, D.C.

Accountability for better healthcare rests on the shoulders of health insurers, physicians, hospitals and the government, Sebelius said during the American Hospital Association's annual meeting. She compared the federal government's role of implementing healthcare reform to that of a baseball umpire overseeing a game. Reform is "really about American patients and their healthcare providers "putting patient-centered care" back at the heart of the healthcare effort, she said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who also appeared at the event, echoed Sebelius' support for the new legislation, and said it marks a giant leap forward for access and affordability. "People can be more entrepreneurial," Pelosi said. "They can take risks. It's about a healthier economy." 

Cornyn digressed, and told the crowd that the new law will make the nation's financial situation worse, does little for accessibility issues, and nothing for tort reform. "Junk lawsuits incentivize practicing defensive medicine--medicine not based on clinical judgment, but" instead practiced so [doctors] won't get sued, he said. 

He referred to the law as "a $2.6 trillion entitlement program. "What incentive is there to control healthcare spending when we're essentially given a credit card with no spending limits and we never see the bill?" Cornyn asked the audience.