Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Work together for health care reform


"What do we want in a health care system?

It’s a question Dr. Donald Berwick asked an audience of 5,000-plus people at the Institute for Health Care Improvement’s National Forum on Tuesday.

Such an easy question. I can quickly rattle off answers: I want health care for my family. I want to be able to see a doctor when I’m ill. I want to be made healthy.

Stop. Berwick asks again. What do you really want? I want to be healthy.

This time think about it. Step back. Inhale. Think. Exhale. What do you really, really want?

Berwick explains how hard it is to skate ski and how he only hits perfection a few times in a hundred kicks. Yet it’s those moments he pursues. That’s what he really, really wants. How does that fit into the health care reform debate? He almost had surgery to replace his knee – something that would have prevented him from ever cross-country skiing again. But another doctor found an alternative to surgery. Perfect. Berwick wanted to ski. He wanted bliss, the richness of the human experience. A moment on the mountain.

That notion is far removed from the politics of health care reform. The debate in Washington is about the role of government or insurance. It’s not about capturing bliss.

But that moment on the mountain is an important part of the health care reform debate. “Health care has no intrinsic value at all. None, Health does. Joy does. Peace does,” says Berwick. “The best hospital bed is empty. The best CT scan is the one we don’t need. The best doctor’s visit is the one we don’t need.”"

Get the Story:
Want health care reform? Seek bliss … and work together (Mark Trahant 12/8)

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