Earlier today I watched a live webstream of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, discussing health insurance reform: what’s in it for me? HHS asked email subscribers to send their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter by using the hashtag #HCRQ.
In 140 characters on Twitter, I asked a serious question:
House health reform bill incl pub reporting of hai. How will HHS coordinate resources going to states so HAI are reduced to zero?
If that is unreadable to you, here is my emailed question to Sebelius: “In May you announced that $50 million would be awarded in grants from the stimulus package to help states combat hospital-acquired infections. The House health care reform bill includes a provision for public reporting of hospital infections and other quality improvements. How does the HHS plan to coordinate the resources going to the states so that hospital-acquired infections are reduced to zero?”
What would you ask Secretary Sebelius?
Even though my specific question was not brought up in the hour-long webstream, Secretary Sebelius mentioned early in the segment the problem of hospital readmissions. 1 out of 5 patients is readmitted within 30 days, and too many people go back because of an infection they acquired in the hospital. Sebelius said HHS is “working with hospitals to improve their care, lower infection rates and do follow-up care when patients leave the hospital.” It saves money and is better for the patient. We have written before about how eliminating hospital infections saves lives AND money, and we were glad to hear Sebelius bring it up again today.
You can view the comments people had for Sebelius by searching the tag #HCRQ on Twitter. Sebelius responded to arguments against health care reform in a recent Washington Post commentary. Now that Congress was urged to slow down all the way to August recess, now is the time to engage in some thoughtful debate and tell our leaders that improving patient safety is essential to health care reform.