Saving Lives & Saving Money by Newt Gingrich, with Dana Pavey and Anne Woodbury ($24.95, 337 pages, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, 2003, ISBN: 0970548540)
Saving Lives & Saving Money is a significant work by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation; Dana Pavey, Gingrich’s director of research at the American Enterprise Institute; and Anne Woodbury, vice president for health at the Gingrich Group. Together they have identified the principles of the transformation necessary to create a twenty-first century health care system that will save both lives and money.
“There is an enormous gap between the quality of health care you and your family should have and what you are most likely receiving from the current system,” Gingrich has said on several different occasions, including in this book. “We have demonstrated that Americans could have a dramatically better system, which would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year.”
Written as a citizen’s guide, Saving Lives & Saving Money applies the lessons Gingrich learned from two decades of work in the national defense transformation, his experience in public health policy as a member of Congress, years of research as a senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and consulting work for health-related businesses at his firm, the Gingrich Group.
Filled with real-life examples of transforming solutions and specific ways for people to get involved in the health care debate, Saving Lives is a wake-up call for radical-left reform advocates and a call to action for the rest of us. It helps the reader understand the problems of the current system while offering a vision for the future.
Gingrich proposes a system where the individual, not the employer or government, is at the center of financing and care decisions. He argues that saving lives and saving money are both moral imperatives and practical needs.
Chapter eight, which outlines a new model for the care and management of diabetes, is especially relevant when one looks at the explosion of obesity-related diabetes. And since we are an aging population, chapter ten, on healthy aging, addresses what will continue to be a prominent topic in health care as the baby-boomers reach retirement age. As Mickey Mantle once said, “If I knew I would live so long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
Some companies in America are currently developing some of the solutions Gingrich suggests in this book. He lists these innovators in an appendix, for those who would like to follow up on these issues or use their services. These organizations range from start-ups to some of the larger medical teaching universities. In looking at the Web sites and emailing a few, I found them to be quite ready and willing to share their information.
Another appendix, titled “Biothreat: Transform or Risk Mass Death,” contains important information about the threat of bioterrorism and the nation’s readiness to meet that challenge. It is sobering to think about potential bioterrorism attacks by hostile forces, but as 9/11 demonstrated, it is better to be prepared than to suffer the consequences.
This appendix ends with a plan of action for the federal government, written with the general reader in mind. It emphasizes vision and design and outlines a process that might be used in dealing with a bioterror attack and its aftermath.
The book bears enthusiastic recommendations from Business Week, National Interest editor John O’Sullivan, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, AARP Executive Director and CEO William D. Novelli, and Dean Ornish, M.D., founder and president of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
The release of Saving Lives & Saving Money coincided with the launch of the Center for Health Transformation at http://www.healthtransformation.net. Its mission, according to Woodbury, is to identify currently available health care procedures that provide better outcomes at lower cost, and to foster their implementation by sharing those solutions with the widest range of individuals, purchasers, providers, and government decision makers.
Saving Lives & Saving Money was published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and is available for purchase at http://www.healthtransformation.net as well as Amazon.com.
Conrad F. Meier is managing editor of Health Care News. His email address is [email protected].