Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Senator Grassley of Iowa

Chuck Grassley has been the Republican Senator from Iowa since 1980. During each year of his tenure he has visited every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. Last Thursday he visited Shelby County where we keep a home in the county seat town of Harlan. We were there that day and went to the session, along with some 30 or 40 local people..

Senator Grassley is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee. Health care is one of the eight major headings of his web page.

At one point during the session he recognized my upraised hand. I mentioned the high and rising cost of health care and asked if he had any prediction on how that issue was likely to be resolved. Old pro that he is, the Senator responded by rattling off malpractice, prevention, paying for value rather than quantity, and other buzz words politicians have found to be safe for use in such circumstances.

The next comment came from a local physician who described a practice improvement initiative undertaken at the local hospital under the sponsorship of the American Academy of Family Practice and urged the Senator to learn more about it. The Senator said that while his staff members who dealt with health issues did not visit Iowa frequently, perhaps it could be arranged for them to come by the next time they were in the state.

I then raised my hand again and expressed the opinion that the Senator ought to be both encouraged and instructed by what had just been said, in that real progress in health care reform depended in the end on the efforts of people actually involved in the provision of care.

The exchange was featured in the local newspaper report of the meeting. One hopes the Senator got the point.

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