Founders Day speaker to offer expert advice on health care debate

Dr. Marilyn Moon, a member of Marietta College’s Board of Trustees, doesn’t claim to have all of the answers when it comes to the continuing health care debate in the U.S.

However, she does have a lot of experience and a wealth of knowledge to share on the subject.

If you want some clear answers to the health care discussion it would be a good idea to attend Marietta College’s 176th Founders Day celebration at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17. That’s when Moon, Vice President and Director of the Health Program at the American Institutes for Research, will give the keynote address.

The program is free and open to the public in the Alma McDonough Auditorium.

Moon plans to focus her talk on four key areas:

1. The need for active patient engagement in their own care. “A passive approach expecting our health care providers to lead us through the process is not viable given the complexities of care and tough choices that often need to be made,” she says.

2. It is an imperative to think holistically about care. “People are more than a gall bladder or a hip. There needs to be better coordination and integration of services,” she says. “But the traditional way of thinking about this as ‘managed care’ did not work well either. This implies new training, new organizations for providing care; but systems don’t change overnight and there will be a lot of resistance.”

3. Some issues must be taken up at the community or societal level. “Some policies can’t operate without rules or regulations that enable the activity,” she says. “For example, eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions and requiring that everyone be able to get insurance cannot work unless everyone is in the system. Allowing individuals to opt out of the system means that it will simply not work. This means taken the unpleasant medicine in order the get the desired outcome.”

4. Financial incentives can work well or poorly; markets do not always give you what you want in health care. “High cost sharing to have more people put ‘skin in the game’ sounds good, but most health-care costs come from just a few people and usually well after they are no longer thinking about making ‘rational’ decisions about needed care. Also, the profit motive can be pernicious in some areas.”

Moon is a nationally known expert on Medicare, she has also served as a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and as a public trustee for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

“The bottom line is to recognize that we can’t have everything; like political discourse, health reform is often an area where people promise all gain and no pain but can’t deliver that in practice,” Moon said. “If we ignore key issues in moving forward, we will get the health care we ‘deserve’ and it will not be a good outcome.”

Marietta College President Dr. Jean A. Scott said she has been honored to get to know Moon better in recent years after she joined Marietta College’s Board of Trustees. She’s also excited to have such an expert talking about one of the nation’s hot-button topics.

“Dr. Moon is a nationally recognized expert on health care, with a specialty in Social Security. I am very happy to have her on the Board of Trustees, and to have had an opportunity to get to know her,” Scott said. “I am looking forward to Founders Day, when she will share her perspective on some of the crucial issues of our day with the campus community. Her remarks will add a new dimension to our yearlong consideration of the topic of health and wellness.”

Moon said there is an enormous criticism of the U.S. health care system and how it falls short in terms of quality while costing individuals more than in any other country. 

“It will take effort on the part of patients, providers of care, and society as a whole to improve our health care system,” Moon said. “This is an issue that goes beyond health care reform, although the new legislation has elements that both help and hinder efforts to improve and rationalize our health care system.”

To read more about Moon and Founders Day, look for your Winter 2011 Trailblazer in the mail by the end of January.