AHIP 2017: Antidote to political drama is to focus on healthcare's north star, says Michael Leavitt

AUSTIN, Texas—If you’re feeling worn down by the drama and uncertainty of a possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and other changes in the healthcare landscape, former HHS secretary Michael Leavitt has some encouraging words for you: In the big scheme of the country’s evolving healthcare system, this is but one chapter in the middle of a 15-chapter novel.

And at the end of the book, there will be a “uniquely American” solution.  

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The story started with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. It continued from the Clinton administration’s mostly unsuccessful attempts to reform healthcare to the patients’ bill of rights, to managed care, to “Obamacare” and the transition from fee-for-service to value-based and accountable care, Leavitt, also the former governor of Utah, told the audience at the 2017 America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute on Wednesday.

It’s “abundantly clear,” he said, that “we want to live in a country where people get care when they need it.” At the same time, it’s clear that the healthcare system has an economic problem. It’s unacceptable to lose that human compassion. But it’s equally unacceptable to ignore healthcare costs, he said.

The antidote to these turbulent political times is to focus on the end of the story and the continuing journey to provide quality care at an affordable cost, Leavitt said.

“I don’t think we’ve lost our compassion [but] overall, it’s still going to drive us to value. If we want compassion and economic leadership: value, value, value. That’s the north star.”