At the closing keynote address of HIMSS13 conference in New Orleans, James Carville and Karl Rove, two of the most notable political minds of the modern era, gave their contrasting thoughts on a variety of hot button issues in a spirited, lively debate.
Rove, the former deputy chief-of-staff under the Bush administration and architect of both the 2000 and 2004 Bush presidential campaigns and Carville, the lead strategist for President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, sparred over a number of subjects. In a back-and-forth format, which was equal parts heated and humorous, the two talked about the current federal sequester, filibusters, the political future of the republican and democrat parties, and most notably for the audience, healthcare reform.
The merits and strategies behind the Affordable Care Act were brought up, as Rove said it was unsustainable, and a “gigantic disaster financially.” He said republicans should be thinking about alternatives because it will likely collapse, as the prices of premiums will rise and many are left uninsured with employers dropping provided coverage. In contrast, Carville defended the act, saying it’s a “remarkable thing” and saying it is necessary due to the fact healthcare costs represent a large percent of gross domestic product in the U.S.
Carville countered Rove on the rising healthcare costs charge, but saying the costs have actually been contained over the last three years. To this, Rove said that was due to people not going to the doctor because they can’t afford it and Medicare patients getting denied coverage. The two went back-and-forth on Medicare and Medicaid, over how much it cost, how effective it was. Carville advocated the recent piece by Steven Brill in Time Magazine and called it “required reading.”
Health IT was briefly mentioned. Rove said it was possible that some of the contained costs of healthcare may have to do with healthcare information systems, and he said he thinks they will have a place in moderating those costs.
The debate closed out the HIMSS13 conference, which brought somewhere in the range of 35,000 people to the Crescent City. In his opening remarks, Carville, a native Louisianan, called it “the Superbowl of Conventions."