David K. Gibson is here to guide readers through what it’s like at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival and Spotlight Health.
And so, the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act repeal bill landed Thursday, on the first day of Spotlight Health. This is a bit like putting on a Star Trek fan convention, and having an ACTUAL KLINGON STARSHIP land in the convention center. Luckily, everyone’s already dressed for battle, and it turns out we’ve already got a tricorder (thanks to Anita Goel of Nanobiosym).
Before the welcoming session even kicked off, Kathleen Sebelius sat down with Judy Woodruff to talk about the Senate’s proposal. Sebelius was Secretary of Health and Human Services under Obama and worked to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act, so no one expected her to have nice things to say. But she didn’t just speak about a difference in approaches to health care, she spoke about the Senate bill’s “assault on Medicaid.” (One could easily imagine a Starfleet Commander Sebelius, it should be said.)
What’s on today’s agenda?
A breakfast discussion of the roots of the opioid epidemic with Nora Valkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. (Spoiler: You probably know the basic story, but the sheer scale of the problem — and the potency of synthetic opioids — is mind-boggling.)
A panel discussion that attempts to answer, “Will People, Data, or Payments Drive Health Care into the Future?” (As you can imagine, viewpoints differ.)
“Quelling Violent Extremism with Public Health Tools” takes place at noon, and looks at an incredibly pressing problem from a health perspective. Perhaps the war on terrorism — like some other “wars” that have been declared in the last half century — could benefit from a solid public health approach.
And, yeah. It’s time to stop by the Mount Sinai booth for a free skin cancer screening. I can’t get an appointment with a dermatologist at home until November.
Sunday, at the Spotlight Health closing session, we’ll see US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price emerge from the Klingon ship, and assure us that AHCA comes in peace.