Federal Grant Produces Website and Guide Books

On December 14th, a press conference will be held in Richmond to announce new “resources” for Virginia businesses interested in providing health insurance to their workers. Governor-elect Tim Kaine is slated to attend; he has been very involved in the small business health insurance issue as Lieutenant Governor. When Kaine and Kilgore debated and moderator Larry Sabato asked what proposal of his opponent each candidate liked, Kilgore mentioned Kaine’s health insurance initiative.

The resources are a website and regional guidebooks. Virginia received a series of three Federal grants, totaling $1.8 million, to study the health insurance availability issue in the state.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The people who have been working with this grant have done some great research. Most of what they discovered, however, is intuitive. I know that studying an issue and alternatives is important before launching into a program. But I cringe when I see a million dollars plus from a grant spent to produce a website and guidebooks. I haven’t seen either in final form and they may be chock full of good information, but I can’t imagine that it’s much more than a compilation of information available in pieces elsewhere.

Maybe I’m a hopeless idealist, but I just can’t help but think that $1.8 million could actually have provided some real health insurance to some real people, using existing resources and the plentiful amount of research and pilot program data that has already been amassed.

A Virginia pilot program could be the next step in the endless cycle of grant, study, report, and new grant. In Will’s world, a candidate comes along who proposes offering only “do something real” grants, wins handily, and keeps his promise.


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3 responses to “Federal Grant Produces Website and Guide Books”

  1. Jim Bacon Avatar

    That’s a great idea, Will! Could you give me a report listing initiatives that would qualify for the “do something real” grants? It would be important, of course, to explain your methodology for generating such a list. Could you also recommend a protocol for ranking the initiatives by return on investment? And don’t forget to append the enabling legislation!!

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Sure, Jim, as soon as I complete retraining my grant writing and grant compliance review staff.

    Basically, we’ll replace the word “study” with the word “do.”

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I’m definitely no expert on health care but it sure seems to me that it would be very effective to see how health care costs could be reduced overall. Are insurance providers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceuticals, etc. showing large profits? Can these costs be “capped” or something so that the private companies can still make a decent profit but health care costs overall can be reduced? What about malpractice insurance? Is that also causing health care rates to soar? Can this be controlled?

    Also I see in the studies on the website that one of the big problems is that people don’t seek maintenance care but instead wait until they are desperately ill and end up in the emergency room. Well, that’s like the pot calling the kettle black! I make a decent salary, I have health care coverage through the Commonwealth, and I can’t afford to take my youngest child to the doctor. It’s ridiculous that a sinus infection visit ends up costing $350 out of pocket or a stomache virus ends up costing $1,200! The state itself has cut benefits to the point that even though we are covered, we still have to decide on buying groceries for the month or being able to visit the doctor. If this is the kind of coverage they are hoping to provide for every Virginian, then thanks, but it’s not enough!

    I’m grateful that the Commonwealth provides coverage. No whining here. The point I’m trying to make is how in the world is someone like my oldest daughter in her mid 20’s with a slightly higher than minimum pay job supposed to be able to afford doctor office visits even if she had the “comprehensive” coverage that I enjoy? And how are my aging parents who retired from the Commonwealth supposed to afford health care on their limited retirement income? Both my parents and my daughter earn too much to qualify for assistance but too little to be able to afford truly decent health care.

    It seems the effort is to insure as many people as possible but being insured today just doesn’t cut it. I think the problem is at a higher level than that. The overall costs of health care need to be controlled.

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