As everyone has read and seen by now, most of the post-speech coverage has been about Rep Wilson's disrespectful "you lie" outburst at our President. (shameful, rude, appalling -- and his lack luster apology was insulting ---but I digress) Not much attention was paid to the two new pieces of policy that were added to the debate by the president. The first is a policy that John McCain advocated for during his campaign: a new, low cost catastrophic coverage insurance plan that would be available through a national "high risk" pool to protect people on day one while other insurance options are phased in over a number of years. This type of insurance is certainly not comprehensive and does not cover the routine and preventive care that is so crucial to improving patient outcomes.....but it will at least prevent financial ruin if someone has the bad luck of getting hit by a car, or having a major illness with months of medical treatment needed.
The second, of course, is the fact that the President addressed medical liability reform. He charged Secretary Sebelius to implement immediate medical malpractice reform projects that to curb the practice of defensive medicine. You may remember from my post last week, I wrote about how Newt Gingrich and I agree on this point....and how the President as a Senator, co-sponsored legislation with Hilary Clinton to provide liability protections for physicians who disclose medical errors to patients and would encourage early settlement before litigation is pursued.
We don't have much more detail about how the President would like HHS to move forward with this charge. I assume that they are still figuring it out. I see an opportunity here to get the physician community more engaged in the process so they feel that their concerns are being addressed. If you are going to do it, do it right....and take credit.