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2 posts from March 2019


Interview with America's Health Insurance Plans' (AHIP) CEO Matt Eyles (March 19th)

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Despite gains made under the ACA, health insurance coverage in the US remains fraught with problems.  Over 28 million non-elderly remain uninsured.  Health care spending is extreme.  Health care coverage is the most expensive worldwide in absolute terms and relative to average incomes – despite the fact Americans consume no more or fewer health care resources than our comparative peers.  In 2018, an insurance premium for a family of four was $19,616 or almost one-third of median household income of $61,372.  Several factors explain this.   Among others, while Medicare spending per capita decreased by 1.2% between 2007 and 2014 however for private insurance spendingincreased per capita by 16.9%.  Rapidly rising drug prices, that account for 17% of all national health spending, are two times as much as comparative countries.  Americans also pay substantial health care administrative costs that equaled $259 billion in 2017, or nearly four times average of other developed countries.  (We spend more on health care administration the UK spends on all of health care.)  Relative to outcomes, US life expectancy at birth, that has declined for the past three years (for the first time in a century), is exceeded by 79 countries.  Per a recent Bloomberg health efficiency study, the US ranked 54th out of 56 countries.  Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain ranked 1 through 3, the US fell between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria.

During this 29 minute conversation Mr. Eyles answers whether health care coverage is a right or a privilege, notes AHIP's position on Texas v. Azar, discusses the problem of consolidated insurance markets, i.e., lack of market competition and what can be done about it.  He responds to questions concerning the health care sectors efforts at measuring for value (outcomes achieved relative to spending), the Medicare Advantage (Part C) program, the future of the insurance industry, what it is doing to address or prepare for the health effects of climate change and we conclude with his brief comment regarding Medicare for All. 

Matthew (Matt) Eyles has served as President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans or AHIP (the national trade association representing commercial health insurance Downloadproviders) for one year.  Mr. Eyles joined AHIP in 2015 to lead its Policy and Regulatory team and served as Chief Operating Officer just prior to his current position.  Just previously, he served in several senior positions at Coventry Health Care (now an Aetna company) and with Wyeth (now a subsidiary of Pfizer).  He also was employed by Avalere Health, a DC-based consulting firm, where his worked moreover concerned pharmaceutical industry issues.  Mr. Eyles began his career at the Congressional Budget Office where he examined an array of health care policy topics.  Mr. Eyles serves on the Board of Directors of the National Health Council and previously on the Board of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI).  He earned his undergraduate degrees in history and political science from The George Washington University and a graduate degree in public Policy from the University of Rochester. 

For information on AHIP go to: https://www.ahip.org/.


David Wallace Wells Discusses His Just-Published "The Uninhabitable Earth, Life After Warming" (February 28th)

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For this, my 168th interview, David Wallace Wells discusses his just-published book, "The Uninhabitable Earth, Life After Warming."  Listeners may recall I interviewed Mr. Wallace Wells on August 2, 2017 shortly after his published his July 2017 New York Magazine article by the same title, "The Uninhabitable Earth."  (At: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html.)   (In the recent past, or since last October, I've also interviewed Jessica Wolff, Kris Ebi and Jeremy Hess all on climate change.)   Currently, the earth has warmed to approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8 F).  Our atmosphere presently contains over 400 parts per million of CO2, more than anytime over upwards of the past 15 million years.  According to the United Nations we are on course to pass 1.5C by 2040.  We learned last October the difference between 1.5C and 2.0C, per the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is cataclysmic.  (We are after all the Goldilocks planet.)  As one commenter of Wallace's Wells work has noted, "the impacts of climate change will be much graver than most people realize and he is right." Another stated, Wallace Wells " doesn't sugarcoat the horror."  As I note in the introduction to this interview, younger listeners (say under 40) are particularly encouraged to listen since you will inherit the full consequences of climate change.     

During this 35-minute conversation Mr. Wallace Wells begins by describing what explains the planet's five great extinctions and what effect they had on species survival.  (Scientists believe we are presently experiencing our sixth great extinction.)  Based on his intensive study he offers the most likely
scenario relative to the current and near-term emissions of global warming greenhouse gas emissions.  He discusses current science on global warming feedback loops, e.g., the albedo effect, James Hansen's "scientific reticence" critique, the value of exploiting hope versus fear in addressing global warming, the promise of carbon capture technology or negative emissions technology and creating hydrocarbon fuels from carbon capture and a general assessment of current US politics, including the recent "Green New Deal," in re: remedying climate change/global warming.       

David Wallace-Wells is deputy editor at New York Magazine, where he also writes about science and SWVjwzZE_400x400his  recurring “Tomorrow” column on the future of science and technology, e.g., his 2015 cover story about the epidemic of honey-bee deaths (the first magazine story to put the blame on neonicitinoid pesticides, which is now accepted science).  He joined the magazine as literary editor in 2011, became features director in 2016, and has overseen the magazine’s family of podcasts in addition to his writing and editing.   Before joining New York magazine, David was deputy editor at The Paris Review, where he edited and published writers such as Ann Beattie, Werner Herzog, Jonathan Franzen, Janet Malcolm, among others, and interviewed William Gibson as part of the magazine’s “Writers at Work” series.  He previously served as "The New York Sun’s" book editor.  Mr. Wallace Wells was graduated from Brown University.

Listeners are again encouraged to read the IPCC's recent, "Global Warming of 1.5C," a 32-page summary of the report is at: https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf