Monday, June 12, 2006

Newt Gingrich at the National Mental Health Association annual conference

Friday morning Newt Gingrich spoke at the National Mental Health Association annual conference I've been attending. He now heads the Center for Health Transformation and spoke about a variety of health matters. Although Newt and I are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, I was impressed with a lot of what he had to say.

He said the most important phrase for the next twenty years is going to be, "Real change requires real change." Martha had heard him speak recently and she went away with that phrase as well.

Gingrich said that our health care system is so broken we need to throw it out and start over - that it's too broken to actually fix. "The bureaucy we have inherited doesn't work," he said. "We're going to be in the replacement business. The system is broken. This machine doesn't work."

He asked how many of us have tracked a package from FedEx or UPS online. Of course many of us had. He said if the government were handling tracking packages, they'd be doing it with quill pens and carbon paper. And "reforming" the system would mean making plastic quill pens and better carbon paper. Instead, we need to just throw out what we have and start over.

I have to agree with him on this matter. He said there is more than enough money, but it's not being used properly. This is also true - we spend a ton of energy on paperwork instead of using the money for what we really need.

A big push in the mental health field is for parity - that mental health concerns would be covered at the same rate as physical health issues. Gingrich said, "We need to move beyond parity to inclusion."

He said there are four kinds of health - spiritual, social, physical and mental - and we need to change the system so all are included. He said, "If you're not doing all four of these, you're engaged in malpractice."