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Ronald Hammerle of Health Resources, Ltd. says:
January 22, 2013

No industry reforms itself. However thoughtful and rational the Fund's recommendations may be, real reform--or transformation, will come from those outside "the industry."

One group's "waste," "inefficiency" and "overpriced" services are someone else's "jobs, revenues and profits."

Congress will continue to vigorously resist "independent payment reforms" or cut healthcare benefits that jeopardize their corporate constituents, including hospitals, big pharma and medical trade unions.

Even big buyer groups, like national and local "business coalitions," the Leapfrog Group and others have not made measurable progress in moving us anywhere near "health spending no greater than the growth in GDP"---after decades of trying.

Individual consumers will continue to be hard-pressed to choose "high value" providers of care, since the nation's largest service industry is still without national providers of care, national brand names or reliable "consumer reports." [The Consumer Union is trying to change that.]

After two decades of litigation and legislation affirming a patient's right to refuse medical care, one would hope--and recommend--that informed consumer choices whould be honored at the most critical and expensive point of care. They often aren't, as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others have found of care at the end of life.

So, who has a history of transforming inefficient and costly industries, being a global leader in applying information technology to drive down costs and improve access (for several hundred million customers each month), a proven ability to effectively manage supply chains, an "outsider's" unique incentive to continuously lower healthcare prices, a track record of successfully doing that with retail prescription drugs nationwide and a new national program to collectively purchase the highest cost, highest risk surgical care at remarkably low unit prices?

Walmart.

Ron Hammerle
Health Resources, Ltd.
Tampa, Florida

[Disclosure: Neither the author nor Health Resources represents or has ever represented Walmart.]