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Did Sermo save health reform?

The objections Sermo and CEO Palestrant offered in September, unlike those he pushed in July, were answerable. They either were answered or are being in the process of being answered.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Hidden inside President Obama's speech Wednesday were several "Easter eggs," nods to long-standing conservative ideas he hoped would make it possible to pass a bill.

Where did these ideas come from? Possibly from Sermo, the Web 2.0 group for doctors.

Early this summer CEO Daniel Palestrant was on TV as an opponent of reform. He said 94% of his members opposed the reform bill passed by the House, and that the American Medical Association was thus out of step with its members in endorsing it.

Was it possible Palestrant was misreading his own members? MedGadget suggested that two years ago, writing that his registration firewall was easily hacked, and that Palestrant's reaction to criticism was unhelpful. But let's assume he got that fixed, even if he complained about being called on it.

Fast forward to this week. Palestrant was back, at The Health Care Blog, claiming to represent 10,000 physicians, but with simpler, easier-to-understand demands:

  1. Tort and malpractice laws are reformed;
  2. Billing is streamlined and pricing made transparent, ending systemic support of the AMA owned billing codes (CPT Codes);
  3. The insurance industry is reformed; and
  4. Payment systems are simplified so they align with the growing need for preventive medicine.

So guess what the President offered in his speech? A nod toward tort reform, an emphasis on prevention, a demand for insurance reform.

The CPT Code issue remains, but their fate is being determined by the health advisory committee of NCHIT David Blumenthal, which is taking a functional approach, not the prescriptive one where CPT codes dominate. Reform-oriented doctors like David Kibbe seem pleased with the work.

The objections Sermo and CEO Palestrant offered in September, unlike those pushed in July, were answerable. They either were answered or are being in the process of being answered.

Does that mean Palestrant or his members will endorse a bill? Maybe not. But he can't claim they weren't heard.

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