October 31st, 2012
As you may know, Kevin recently completed a book, “American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach,” which is a quick but broad-spectrum read about healthcare, insurance, micro-economics, business, and the political process. His analysis is leavened with personal anecdotes, analogies and thought experiments which he uses to illustrate his major points.
If you weren’t already aware, Kevin’s and my worldviews are built on different but overlapping core premises and “American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach,” is, as the title suggests, not radical on the grand political spectrum. The problems he identifies are universally acknowledged and the several remediations he recommends are practical, available, and will strike most readers as uncontroversially helpful approaches.
But given the tightly constrained nature of the healthcare debate, where the most progressive administration we’re ever likely to see put forward a plan whose centerpiece is a 20 year old idea from the most conservative establishment think tank in existence, Kevin’s proposals are far beyond the most radical ideas on the table.
We will probably have several future episodes focused more or less on “American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach.” Today’s podcast is pulled from casual conversations that we had while recording shows on other topics. Upon further review, I thought there was enough good material to put together an introduction to the book before a more thorough discussion.
Jad: Hello and welcome back to our podcast. This installment is a little different and a little shorter. As you may know, Kevin recently completed a book, American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach, which is a quick but broad spectrum read about healthcare, insurance, microeconomics, business, and the political process. His analysis has leavened with personal anecdotes, analogies, and thought experiments which he uses to illustrate his major points.
If you weren’t already aware, Kevin’s and my world view are built on different but overlapping core premises, and American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach is – as the title suggests – not radical on the grand political spectrum. The problems he identifies are universally acknowledged, and the several remediations he recommends are practical, available, and will strike most readers as uncontroversially hopeful approaches.
But given the tightly constrained nature of the healthcare debate, where the most progressive administration we’re ever likely to see has put forth a plan who’s centerpiece is a 20 year old idea from the most conservative establishment think tank and existence, Kevin’s proposals are far beyond the most radical ideas on the table. We will probably have several future episodes focused more or less on American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach.
Today’s podcast is pulled from casual conversations that we had while recording shows on other topics. Upon further review, I thought there was enough good material to put together an introduction to the book before a more thorough discussion began. Because of the unintentional nature of this content, I had to do a fair amount of creative editing to clear out some names – mostly the name of a reviewer – and edit around non-relevant tangents. Please forgive any audio oddities that come your way. To start us off, Kevin gave me a rundown on the origins of the book and how it came to be.
Kevin: When I first starting writing the healthcare book, what it actually started was a larger book and the healthcare was just supposed to be a chapter of it. That was actually what I was working on and then I just got really interested I guess in the healthcare side of it, and so I kind of separated it and then expanded it quite a bit more than it originally was
because I wanted to be able to finish some of it. And so I guess my idea was to you know, eventually finish the other chapters and just have them all as you know, slightly longer chapters, but each one an individual book. I hate soliciting it but I’m curious. So you read the book?
Jad: Yeah man, I really enjoyed it.
You’ve already heard most of my high level review, so I’ll spare you the repetition. Well jump back in as I highlight my personal experience of reading ideas and stories that I had heard bits and pieces of around the lunch table.
I heard chunks of the logic before from the parts we’re reading, and I’ve heard some of the stories before –
Jad: – so it was really interesting to then read like, your fully fleshed out you know, and probably drafted, and revised, and revised versions of those same thoughts.
Kevin: Oh yeah. I’ve had a bunch of people from the left read it you know, even while I was working on it, and then I guess –
Jad: Here the editing gets rough, so I’ll give you a little bit of context. A mutual acquaintance of ours read the book on the first day it came out. He’s a policy wonk – though not professionally – and a strong supporter of the affordable healthcare act.
Kevin: I just kind of jokingly was showing it to him because the argument came up and I was like, “well, I did write a book about it, so there’s that.” The next day I said to him, I was like – you know, off to the side – I was like, “man that was really nice of you”, I was like, “I really didn’t expect you to read that”, and because even though we disagreed on a number of the things, I think he really – at least from what he described – like, he really took in a lot of the points that I made, and it really kind of takes me back to every single episode that you and I have ever had or everything we talk about is that – I guess it’s reassuring a little bit, or is a little bit motivating to have that conversation and even though he disagrees with parts on it, he’s willing to look at that other side because trying to make the points that I at least I thought would balance his position as well.
Jad: Yeah, the people that you don’t intend to read it that read it and you know, and have a thought –
Jad: – is a huge win. If you’re able to take someone who’s like very savvy and very you know – thinks about this stuff all the time –
Jad: – and you’re able to give him something that he hasn’t thought about, then that’s definitely – you know, a [?] huge win, so I can’t use that against you – an even huger win.
Kevin: Need to get you a “saurus”.
Jad: Is huge win in the thesaurus? That really surprises me.
Kevin: It might be in there somewhere.
Jad: Kevin continues on, talking about one of the primary intentions of the book, which is to provide broadly acceptable positions that encourage conversations instead of reinforcing ideology. He does this while saying, “circle jerk” a lot.
Kevin: You know, I use the “circle jerk” expression a lot. You know, it’s most of the topics that I read in political circles are of the “circle jerking” type of nature, right? Like, I listen to people talk about them afterwards and I’m like, “well of course all you guys agree with that because you already agree with it. Convince the other group of what your position is. Write it in such a way that you’re able to plant the seed into the other group’s mind because you don’t need to convince me any further – I’m already on your team. But you do need to convince somebody else because this person thinks you’re insane, and I don’t think you’re insane. Prove that to them.”
I guess that’s the side I come from and it’s probably far too arrogant of me to think that maybe that occurred, but I guess that was the experience I felt, so I felt kind of good about that. But yeah, I would love to do that, I would love to chat about it, and I’d definitely love to get your critique on it – and for that matter, Elise’s critique because I think you were saying that she actually has kind of that similar view that I have on it where even though she might not fundamentally agree with it, she believes that it’s probably the better way to go. Isn’t that what you were saying?
Jad: To fill in the gap here, Kevin is talking about a single pair health plan. Elisa works for a Medicaid provider and believes that a hybrid system – as we have now – is the worst of both worlds, where the healthcare system is heavily regulated by the state to favor the monied corporate interests. Her belief – which Kevin also hints at in his book – is that the healthcare system would be
less dysfunctional if free from government control, or put completely under government prevue[?].
She experiences all of these things all these things all the time or whatever. Compounding pharmacy is selling something for $30, Merck or something that sells the same thing for $700, so Merck is trying to make it illegal for compounding pharmacies to provide the Medicare providers you know, this web of political intrigue essentially, surrounding this – surrounding Medicaid.
Kevin: Yeah, I didn’t explicitly define it. I do talk a lot about the middle layer – the middle man – basically how the insurance company is really just working as a – they’re really working as a financial manager – they’re not working as a – they’re not working as an insurer, right? They’re just moving money around, which doesn’t really serve a purpose for anybody. I don’t explicitly say in the book anywhere about how we should have this public option necessarily, but what I talk about is the fact that in the absence of a public option, these are the things that are going to inevitably occur unfortunately, so –
Jad: Kevin talks about his editor in this effort.
Kevin: You know, actually I have to give my girlfriend some credit for it. I actually did name her the editor of the book. She’s really good at being able to shorten things because she reads like a book a day, and I hate reading actually – ironically. Or at least books, I just – I read non-fiction online all the time. But she was really kind of instrumental in just kind of cutting it down. I tend to be a lot more verbose than I need to be and her take was to say that’s not a very good way to write because you lose people’s attentions very quickly.
Jad: Finally, Kevin explains the clever tactic he’s used to get early feedback on the book.
Kevin: Per kind of what I’ve read online and everything and even on Amazon, what I’ve been doing is actually I went to Ron Paul’s book – so one of his first ones on Amazon – and what I did was I looked at all the reviews that had been written for it and there’s like 1,500 reviews or something, and you sort them by most relevant – and I literally clicked on every single person. As I would click on them I could determine if they have an e-mail address and in some cases I would look them up on Facebook.
So I’ve actually contacted like 40 people, and I sent them e-mails saying, “hey you know, I’m a Ron Paul supporter”, and I was like, “you know, I’ve written this book. I’ve read some of your reviews on Amazon. If I send you the book, would you be interested in reading it and potentially reviewing it for me because I’m just trying to get some exposure to it”, and so far – with the
exception of I think one person – everybody’s actually said yes. So yes, I’m pretty excited.
Jad: So you’re sending out a fleet of books then?
Kevin: I’m going to be. I’m actually waiting for that fleet to get here. I’ve got a box of 50 of them coming on Friday, and then I’m going to mail them out to all these people.
Jad: Yeah, very cool.
Kevin: Yeah, so it should be interesting. I’d be curious to see what you know, a bunch of people that I don’t know and I don’t really know what their views are – be curious to see what they say about it.
Jad: As of this recording, American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach is ranked #2 in Kindle’s Economic Conditions category, #3 in Business Economics, and #5 in Government. You can read the e-book online or with your Kindle for a couple of bucks, or get the hardcopy for a couple of bucks more.
Thanks for listening. If you have any suggestions, questions, comments, or other correspondence, please e-mail us at JKPod@JKPod.com, or stop by the website of the same name and let us know what you’re thinking. We’ll have links up to the book at Amazon, and you can check out the reviews thus far. You can also swing by our websites, Jad-Davis.com, or KevinLudlow.com to see what else we’re working on. Thanks again for listening and until next time, take care.