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If You Don’t Get The New Health Care Law, At Least You Can Laugh About It

OK, no one said implementing the new health law was gonna be easy. Or, as the clueless and nameless health care executive says in the cartoon video below which has gone viral in health policy circles, “This sounds way harder than I expected.”

On yesterday’s All Things Considered I explored some of the reasons the effort to educate the public about how the new law works hasn’t gone so well.  One reason, of course, says White House health policy aide Stephanie Cutter, is that the law is “monumental.”

If by that she means big and confusing, she’s right. In this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, two of the biggest names in health policy, Dartmouth’s Elliott Fisher and Berkeley’s Stephen Shortell try to explain how one of the shiny new cost-saving, quality-improving ideas enshrined in the law, “Accountable Care Organizations” are supposed to work.

Even if you’ve been following the debate, it’s pretty mind-numbing stuff.

Which brings us back to our video: 

In the video, a bespectacled health care executive is seeking advice from a woman who is obviously some kind of expert consultant. He sheepishly admits, however, that he’s been too busy to read the new bill.

“But I did read in Modern Healthcare [a popular industry weekly] that it is a good idea for me to start an Accountable Care Organization,” he tells her in a robotic voice.

When she inquires about his ability to manage the health of his patient population and other technical details, he looks lost. “Can I just form an accountable care corporation, appoint a board of trustees, and have monthly meetings?” he whines.

For those inside health policy, this is pretty hilarious stuff. And the back story turns out to be pretty funny, too.

The video was created in August by an actual CEO of an actual health system poking fun at his own kind; Gary Campbell of Centura Health. It’s Colorado’s largest hospital system.

Spokeswoman Wendi Dammann says Campbell was just playing around with the newly installed software that let him do the animation, and developed the video to help explain to his own board members about the Accountable Care Organization he had in mind for Centura.

But once they posted it on YouTube, it just took off. She said the first call they got was from Modern Healthcare, and when she told Campbell the magazine wanted to talk to him about the video, his only response was “very funny.”