Here in the Newsroom, we like to ask the experts to give us their solutions to America’s biggest problems– in 90 seconds or less. Here is Dr. Michael Brooks, Senior Vice President at West End Medical Centers in Atlanta, with his 90-second prescription to fix the health care system.
From CNN Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen
You think you’ve got money problems? Try figuring out ways to save $2 trillion.
The Obama administration is announcing today that various players in the healthcare industry have made a commitment to save $2 trillion (that’s 12 zeros, by the way) over the next ten years. If they can do it, there’s a huge payoff: the savings could help fund insurance for the 46 million Americans who have none.
The specifics on exactly how the $2 trillion will be cut are a bit sparse, but everyone agrees that medical care in this country is wasteful. For example, have you ever had a doctor re-order tests another doctor already did? I know I have. It’s not all that expensive when it happens just once, but when it happens over and over again – cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
Here’s another example of how money is wasted in medical care. “Almost every good technology is overused. Doctors sometimes order MRI’s when they could order X-rays, even though MRI’s are more expensive,” says Len Nichols, director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation.
So now the big question is whether doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals will actually institute enough changes to save the $2 trillion. While Nichols is hopeful, others are more skeptical. “My gut instinct is no, we can’t do this,” says Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “This is just too big to happen in ten years.”
But even Holtz-Eakin, director of domestic and economic policy of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, gives Obama kudos for getting all the different factions to sit in the same room together. “It’s an accomplishment just getting all these people to commit to a plan,” he said.
CNN Senior Medical Producer Jennifer Pifer-Bixler contributed to this report.
Political pundits have suggested the annual White House correspondents dinner is a less-than-dignified event for a president. This year, many wondered whether President Obama would bring in any laughs. Listen to his comments from Saturday’s dinner and send us your thoughts.
With many states struggling to close massive budget deficits, much of the stimulus money that has been allocated is still waiting to be spent, because of the complex and drawn-out approval process. http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/07/news/economy/state_budget_gaps/index.htm.
However, some companies and state governments are attempting to simplify this process and improve transparency:
Microsoft recently announced a program called Stimulus360. The new software will be integrated with Microsoft Office Excel and Outlook and use Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software. It's designed to simplify the process by centralizing information, providing links for legislative and regulatory information as well as data, and mapping features to track stimulus-funded projects.
Arkansas has released a free iPhone application called "Arkansas.gov Recovery Project Search" that allows citizens to track the progress of stimulus funds in their state from their iPhone or iPod Touch. Users can search for projects by location or keywords and bookmark certain ones to keep tabs on the progress made.
Another company, Onvia, runs a Web site, http://www.Recovery.org , which aims to provide businesses with better access to pending stimulus projects. The site allows businesses and individuals to search by state, county or city and see what projects are being funded by stimulus dollars. It also features maps, data and graphs for each state.
And of course there is the federal government's own Web site, http://www.Recovery.gov, which is impressive, but contains an overwhelming amount of information. One resource that helps break it down is a map with links to each state's own stimulus Web sites http://www.recovery.gov/?q=content/state-recovery-page. Do you have any ideas on how the government, private sector, or you, the taxpayer could better track the task of distributing the stimulus money while ensuring it is done quickly yet appropriately? Leave us a comment - let us know what you think!
By Matt Gannon