Healthcare, Movies and Air Travel

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This past weekend I was preparing for the week ahead like many of us do.  I organized my home office, checked what was coming up, caught up on email – you know, the usual stuff.  A couple movies were on Netflix and iTunes that I wanted to watch too so I took the time to indulge my senseless entertainment side.  First up I watched Exodus – God and Kings.  Directed by Ridley Scott and staring Christian Bale I thought to myself, “How bad could it be?”

So a little background.  I love the old movie epics like the Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.  Let’s just say that Exodus – God and Kings was nothing like these.  In fact, I think Scott showed up on set one day after takings his kids to school and said to the crew, “Hey, did you know today is opposite day?  Well we’re going to focus the ENTIRE plot of this movie on the things that don’t really matter and spend little to no time at all on the things that do.”  After 150 minutes had passed, during which time I drifted off twice, I wasn’t sure what to think.  I was beside myself having just wasted 2.5 hours of my life.  So what did I do?  I went and read up on what’s new in the world of healthcare – cuz that’s what I do.

There’s nothing too exciting going on at the moment.  There’s a lot of back and forth on our friends from SoCal, Zenefits and whether or not they are (a) the savior of the insurance industry or (b) the Anti-Christ.  I will share some of my thoughts on that very point next month.  There’s a lot of press from all the national consultants on how well their exchange platforms are doing.  This is good news for all of us – healthcare needs an infusion of technology and efficiency.  At the end of this month I’ll be in Dallas at the IHC Private Exchange Forum serving as the co-chair for that event.  At last tally we had >450 attendees which is past capacity so it should be a good show.  Keep an eye out for commentary while I’m there.  Lastly I continue to be astounded at how much innovation there is in the private sector and how little it costs relative to some of our favorite government activities.  For example, I heard that CMMI – for those unfamiliar with this group it is the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation – has a $10B budget to spend over 10 years.  Yep, billion with a B.

Let’s once again put this in perspective.  CMMI (does the fact that a government organization actually has the word innovation in it’s title make anyone else giggle like a school girl?) is about half way through the 10 year budget so they’ve spent $5B and delivered what exactly?  Well let’s see – according to their own website they’ve updated several of the ACO models that they have been working on.  OK, ACO’s are cool – in principal.  Some models work really well, some not so much but all in all I like the concept of ACOs.  To be fair, CMMI has done a lot of other projects of a similar nature so let’s say that over the course of the past 5 years, CMMI has created value.

In comparison I recently read an article (September 2014 to be precise) that talked about the top healthcare VCs in the industry and what they’re spending their money on.  In less than two years the top VCs invested $4B across 270 transactions.

What does it all mean?  For those that have read my ramblings for awhile now you know I’ve been pretty hard on government spending and while I’m not going to stop being critical, I do think I owe an ever so slight nod to CMMI.  I’m sure we could create more value (read money) if the private sector had the same $5B that CMMI has spent but would we have invested it in the foundational activities that CMMI did?  Probably not.  This old conservative is cautiously optimistic about the future of healthcare in this country and equally optimistic that government innovation programs, if nothing else, will show us some of the things that work and many that don’t – both being very valuable lessons.

In closing I would invite you to watch not Exodus – Gods and Kings but rather Iron Sky. This movie is about a group of Nazis who fled the Earth in 1945 to establish a secret base on the dark side of the moon and who return in 2018 to attempt to conquer the world.  I know, sounds like a horrible movie but how could it be with Udo Kier in it!  Incredibly funny and satyrical, I think you’ll enjoy it.