Massachusetts voters deserve a substantive, competitive campaign for Governor this year. I have decided to do my part to foster a productive debate by conducting one-on-one interviews with each of the nine candidates on health care issues. Most of the candidates are well known in the health care world but even those with non-health care backgrounds have studied the issues and have credible ideas.
I asked each candidate the same set of questions. The questions (at the bottom of this post) span a wide variety of topics: health care reform, cost containment, hospital market dynamics, health information technology, children’s health and public health. I sent the questions to the candidates a couple days in advance to give everyone the opportunity to think through their responses. As you listen to the interviews and read the transcripts and summaries I think you’ll develop a good sense of where each candidate stands.
I’ll start the series with the two Republicans, move on to the two independents, and conclude with the five Democrats. I’ll add hyperlinks to this post as the interviews are posted.
If you don’t care about (or actively disdain) Massachusetts politics, don’t worry! I’ll continue posting on other topics in between interviews. This week I’m at #HIMSS14 as an official social media ambassador, so look for some posts on health care IT from Orlando as well.
Here’s the calendar with links as they are posted:
- Charlie Baker (Republican), February 25
- Mark Fisher (Republican/Tea Party), February 27
- Evan Falchuk (United Independent Party), March 2
- Jeff McCormick (Independent), March 4
- Don Berwick (Democrat), March 5
- Martha Coakley (Democrat), March 6
- Joe Avellone (Democrat), March 9
- Steve Grossman (Democrat), March 11
- Juliette Kayyem (Democrat), March 13
These are the questions I posed to each candidate:
- Does Chapter 224 represent the right approach to addressing rising health care costs? If not, where does it miss the mark and what would you do differently?
- Certain provider systems in Massachusetts are reimbursed significantly more than others for the same services even though there are virtually no differences in quality. Does the state have a part to play in addressing these disparities?
- More than a dozen state agencies have a role in health care. Is there an opportunity to consolidate or rationalize them?
- Government policy has encouraged adoption of electronic medical records. However many providers complain about the systems and the benefits have been slow to materialize. Should state government play a role in helping to realize the promise of health information technology?
- Hepatitis C is 3 or 4 times more common than HIV. New drugs that can cure the infection are coming on the market this year but they are very expensive. What role should the state play in ensuring that residents are tested, linked to care, and have access to these new medications?
- There are multiple health care related ballot questions. What are your thoughts about them?
- How has your experience as [__________] prepared you to be Governor? [Note: I personalized this one based on each candidate’s background]
- Much of the emphasis in health care reform is on adult patients. Is there a need for a specific focus on children’s health?
- Is there anything you’d like to add?
I hope you enjoy the interview series and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
By health care business consultant David E. Williams, president of the Health Business Group.February 24, 2014