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ABA Health eSource
December 2008 Volume 5 Number 4

Chair's Column
by Vickie Yates Brown, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Louisville, KY

Vickie Yates BrownThe Section held its annual Washington Healthcare Summit November 17-18 at the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, Virginia. As always, the chance to hear from our colleagues in government and leaders in our field was particularly engaging as well as timely. Though the two-day event covered a wide-range of speakers and topics, I have highlighted two seminar presentations, which captured the Summit’s most prominent themes.

The program began with an interesting panel of Congressional Staffers who emphasized the impact of the troubled economy on healthcare in America. Significant job losses are most often accompanied by the loss of healthcare benefits which ultimately impacts states’ abilities to handle Medicaid and Medicare responsibilities. As one panelist noted, states have two options-they can either raise taxes or cut expenses. The last time the United States underwent a recession, it took 47 months to get back to the previous level of jobs, which indicates we’re likely to endure several more months of significantly low revenues throughout the country. The panel, however, believed President Obama’s administration will move Congress to take action on healthcare early in his administration in light of his regularly acknowledged commitment to seriously addressing the intensifying issue.

All agreed that Congress faces a daunting agenda, with healthcare reform high on the priority list. Other issues likely to find their way onto the Congressional front-burner include improving private insurance markets, food and drug safety importation, and biologically engineered drugs, especially with respect to patent issues. With a Democratic controlled Congress, the panel also thought there might be some movement on SCHIP.

Other issues the panel addressed included pay for performance and quality of services. The enormous budget deficit facing the incoming administration will lead to more emphasis on value, particularly in the care of chronic diseases.

Lastly, the panel touched upon the recent Rand study which outlines the premise that increased spending does not equate to better health outcomes. The panel also touched upon the problem that physician reimbursement issues decided on a year to year basis consume large amounts of time, thus there is a need to figure out a better way of managing this issue. The two main problems facing healthcare reform in the coming years remain privacy issues and funding. The panel felt that HIT and privacy are vital in attaining better quality.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), chair of the Budget Committee, also offered his insights related to healthcare in America. From his perspective things are in bad shape and only getting worse. For example, the early stage of baby boomers will dramatically increase the amount of debt, which healthcare costs significantly aid. 40 million persons are currently eligible for Medicare services, but by 2050 the number is expected to rise to over 80 million. It is estimated that in the year 2050, 37% of expenses will come from healthcare. Despite the grim picture for the future, Senator Conrad touched upon a few courses of action that can offset rising issues, such as greater organization in providing care, ultimately cutting the number of medications a patient needs. Provider incentives, including a change from compensation from procedures to compensation for outcomes may help. A commitment to e-health most likely can alleviate many costs and issues in the healthcare market. Most importantly, however, Senator Conrad made it clear that both parties in government must come together to address the ever-serious issues in healthcare.

In all the 6th annual Washington Healthcare Summit was an overwhelming success and seems to have truly hit its stride this year. The Summit was well attended and offered engaging programming for its participants. We thank all who made this year’s event a success and are looking forward to next year.

One of my family’s Holiday dessert traditions is a dish called Woodford Pudding.  The dessert received its name from Woodford County, Kentucky near Lexington.  Bluegrass cooks have been making Woodford Pudding for over a century.   The recipe first appeared in the publication Housekeeping in the Bluegrass in 1875.  Woodford Pudding is a spongy pudding spiced with cinnamon  and similar to an English jam pudding.  

My family has traditionally topped the pudding with Butter Sauce.  However, Marion Flexner, the author of one of my favorite Kentucky culinary cookbooks, Out of Kentucky Kitchens (1949), suggested a bourbon sauce she credited to Judge H. H. Tye of Williamsburg, Kentucky.  Ms. Flexner noted that Judge Tye was a noted dinner table host of his day.

WOODFORD PUDDING

  • ½ c. softened butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. seedless blackberry, strawberry or other tart jam
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (optional)
  •  ¼ tsp cloves (optional)

Grease 12 x 7 ½ inch baking dish.  Dissolve soda in buttermilk.  Sift flour and spice(s) together.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add flour and buttermilk to mixture by alternating flour and buttermilk mixtures.  Fold in jam.  Bake in greased dish at 325 deg. for 25 to 30 minutes or until set.

BUTTER SAUCE FOR PUDDING

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. evaporated milk
  • ½ c. melted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks, well beaten

Mix together melted butter and sugar in heavy saucepan.  Add evaporated milk and beaten egg yolks.  Cook over medium low heat until thickened.  Serve sauce warm over pudding.

JUDGE TYE’S BOURBON SAUCE FOR PUDDING

  • ¼ c. softened butter
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • ¼ c. bourbon or brandy, or more to taste

Cream the butter with sugar.  Add the egg.  Put into a double boiler and stir until mixture thickens but do not boil.  Add the brandy or bourbon.  Serve at once. 

Happy Holidays! 

 

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