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Modern Healthcare - - OPINIONS EDITORIALS -

“Ken­tucky’s prob­lems are deeply in­ter­re­lated. Poverty is an in­di­ca­tor for poor health and low ed­u­ca­tional per­for­mance, and all three dis­cour­age busi­ness from set­ting up shop in a place which, of course, con­trib­utes to poverty. It’s hard to move up when deeply in­ter­twined fac­tors weigh us down. … De­spite a lot of ful­mi­nat­ing to the con­trary, govern­ment plays a deep and sig­nif­i­cant role in the state’s eco­nomic fu­ture. Di­rectly, through ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, smok­ing poli­cies, bond rat­ings and tax in­cen­tives. Govern­ment’s role in health­care is huge, through Medi­care, Med­i­caid, KCHIP and other pro­grams, even if the care may be pro­vided by pri­vate prac­ti­tion­ers. … In dif­fi­cult times ... the calls grow to shrink govern­ment and lower taxes to en­cour­age eco­nomic growth. But this ... doesn’t make the case for a smaller govern­ment role; they are per­sua­sive about the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of wide­spread ac­cess to a high level of ed­u­ca­tion, of mea­sures that im­prove the odds that peo­ple can lead healthy lives and get qual­ity health­care when they need it, and of smart in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments.” “Now that con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans will no longer have Dr. Don­ald Berwick to de­mo­nize as head of the (CMS), is it too much to hope that they will de­clare a cease-fire and al­low quick con­fir­ma­tion of his pro­posed suc­ces­sor? Pres­i­dent Obama has an­nounced that he will nom­i­nate Mar­i­lyn Taven­ner, the agency’s prin­ci­pal deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor. She is an ex­pe­ri­enced health­care ex­ec­u­tive who is well-qual­i­fied to con­tinue and ex­pand the im­por­tant re­form work started by Dr. Berwick. Through no fault of his own, Dr. Berwick, a re­spected ex­pert on health­care costs and qual­ity, be­came a light­ning-rod for Repub­li­can at­tacks on health­care re­form and govern­ment en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams. Repub­li­cans dis­torted his record and past state­ments to im­ply that he would in­tro­duce ‘so­cial­ized’ medicine and ‘death panels’ and ig­nored the praise heaped on him by health­care pro­fes­sion­als and med­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions. ... The agency needs con­tin­ued strong lead­er­ship as it works to cre­ate pi­lot pro­grams and in­no­va­tion cen­ters that are sup­posed to lower costs of Medi­care and Med­i­caid and im­prove the qual­ity of care.”

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