Who runs American Healthcare? Answer: politicians, regulators, and financiers. Not an encouraging sign for Serious Medicine.
ModernHealthcare.com just released its 2010 list of the Hundred Most Powerful People in Healthcare. But the headline atop Rebecca Vesely's piece was revealing: "Regulators extend their reign: Once again, administration officials and members of Congress top the 100 Most Powerful." In other words, the long trend in health and medicine--the subordination of doctors and scientists, and the elevation of politicians, regulators, and financiers--continues unabated. So Barack Obama is #1, Kathleen Sebelius is #2, Nancy Pelosi is #3, and so on. The full list is here. No wonder we have a stagnating medical system, in terms of cures. That's the bad news--and it is bad news for patients and future patients. (And also for the medical-industrial complex, if we are to have one, creating good jobs at good wages making real things, real treatments and cures, not just reports and red tape.) The "good news"--and it's actually not good news--is that the financial and paperwork side of the healthcare sector is booming. Obviously we need some political, financial, and regulatory oversight and even income-transferring, but such politicking shouldn't come at the expense of treatments and cures.
As Serious Medicine Strategist Jeremy Shane points out, "This is another list with virtually no researchers or clinicians. . . . the head of NIH - the #1 grant-giver in America is #82!" That would be Dr. Francis Collins, who does, indeed, rank behind many hospital administrators, trade association executives, and even the Assistant Attorney General for Anti-Trust, Christine Varney, who, at #54 seems to way outrank Dr. Collins.
To paraphrase Joe Biden, speaking in different context: Don't tell me what your values are. Show me your list of leaders, and I'll tell you what your values are.
And so here you have it: Our idea of healthcare is bureaucrats and financiers.