Monday, August 24, 2009

An Ozarks hospital system’s use of prevention improve care to Medicare patients while cutting costs was named Partnership for Prevention's "Best Prevention Idea of the Week," while the CEO of Whole Foods’ repeated calls for personal responsibility while was “Worst Prevention Idea of the Week.”

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters <> , the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week's news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at

St. John’s Uses Prevention to Improve Medicare Service, Save Money

St. John's Health System of Springdale, Mo., improved care of its 30,493 Medicare patients so much in the third year of a Medicare project -- while also cutting Medicare costs -- that St. John's has earned back some of the savings. The health system will receive $3.2 million from Medicare for its achievement, as one of only five groups that earned incentive money for its success. The physician groups focused on 32 quality measures, focusing on diabetes, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, hypertension and cancer screening. Evidence showed that the focus on prevention will reduce complications from the disease, reducing the need for care or emergency room visits in the future, officials said. And St. John’s officials said their efforts can be replicated at small rural facilities.

Whole Foods CEO Stresses “Personal Responsibility,” Ignores Community Role in Health

In a Wall Street Journal column,
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey opposed increased government spending and control in health care, suggesting instead that Americans “should use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health.” The boutique grocer listed several pro-business alternatives to reforms advocated by the White House, but none of them addressed making more healthy choices available to underserved populations who don’t have supermarkets in their neighborhoods and can’t afford to pay $39 for a pound of goat cheese.


  1. LB said...
    The proposals from John Mackey at Wole Foods make good sense to me and many others.

    • Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
    • Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
    • Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
    • Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
    • Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
     Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
    • Enact Medicare reform.
    • Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

    Your unfounded criticism of his suggestions was: "but none of them addressed making more healthy choices available to underserved populations who don’t have supermarkets in their neighborhoods and can’t afford to pay $39 for a pound of goat cheese."

    None of Mr. Mackey's reform ideas have anything to do with supermarkets in the neighborhood or expensive goat cheese. If state boundries to Health Insurance plans were eliminated, eveyone would have access to any Health Insurance plan available anywhere in the US (with or without a neighborhood supermarket).

    Healthy lifestyle choices (eating sensibly, exercising, not smoking, etc.) are personal individual responsibilities, just like safe driving.

    Do we propose the federal government to control the auto industry and provide us with their choice of make and model to make transportation safe and affordable?

    If the federal government was really capable of controling costs and delivering healthcare, why is their Medicare program bankrupt?

    What major activity has the federal government proven itself to be capable of delivering quality, cost effective and financially sustanable services? Rail service - Amtrack bankrupt. Postal Service - bankrupt. Freddie & Fannie Mortgage service - bankrupt. Medicare - bankrupt. VA Healthcare - what is their "quality"? Etc, etc.

    Finally, if members of Congress are required to use the same programs and be subject to the same laws and reulations they put on us taxpayers, then I may be willing to trust them.
    BD said...
    Seems like, since this is a blog about prevention and not a blog about insurance, you've already made this organization's point for them when you state that Mr. Mackey's approach to reforming health care is only about insuracne, and that the lifestyle issues cited by Mr. Mackey are purely a matter of "individual responsibilities, just like safe driving."

    If that's how Mr. Mackey feels, then he's saying he's not concerned about prevention, and I wouldn't blame Partnership for Prevention if they're dissatisfied with that.

    BTW, driving, to pick up on your analogy, is not simply a matter of individual responsibility. We don't just tell people to get insurance and then turn 'em loose to drive however they want. Communities install traffic signs, street lights, and speed bumps to reduce traffic accidents. Roads and cars are designed to prevent accidents and reduce harm to passengers. Governments require driving exams before they issue licenses and schools offer driver's education classes to reduce accidents.

    Laws and public service campaigns have helped crack down on drunk driving, car thefts, and the use of safety carriers for infants riding in cars. While we can't have safe driving without personal responsibility, relying on personal responsibility alone is not good policy.

    Back to lifestyle choices. Do you really think a person who holds down two jobs while raising a family is likely to take the time to take a two-hour bus ride to the closest place they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables when there are convenience stores and fast food markets within a block or two around them? Do you really think govenrment wasn't involved when school districts allowed themselves to be bribed by soft drink companies into letting the vending machines into schools and letting pizza restaurants hold "pizza nights" on campus?

    Too often, the government has already been weighing in on obesity issues; they've just been weighing in on the side of obesity. People need insurance, but we also need more attention paid to prevention.

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