Policy empiricist: Law Professor David Hyman examines progress of state leadership

October 1, 2007

If you ask David Hyman, Cato Institute adjunct scholar and University of Illinois professor of health law and medicine, what's on the horizon for healthcare, he'll tell you he'd rather share his empirical view of what we've learned from the past instead.

"With due credit to Yogi Berra, 'It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,'" Hyman says. "I'm a quantitative researcher and a empiricist-I study what's out there, what's going on, and what we should learn from what we've tried already."

Hyman produced a series of articles about the lessons learned from the regulation of healthcare.

Hyman spent three years working for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where he served as special counsel, responsible for coordinating hearings and authoring a major report on healthcare and competition law and policy. The FTC is charged with advancing consumer's interests through antitrust enforcement and consumer protection.

"I'm interested in what consumers want, and it turns out consumers want different things," Hyman says. "People who are healthy want different things than people who are chronically ill. People who are young want different things than people who are old. Trying to force everyone into a single financing or delivery model is not going to serve consumers' interests."

Q. In general, what do you think about the re-emergence of the states as players on the field of policy?

Q. Do managed care executives have a role in aiding the states' re-emergence in policy?

A. As the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice recommended in their 2004 report, "Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition," managed care plans-and everyone else-should be doing more to encourage greater transparency with regard to the cost and quality of care. Plans also should do a lot more to make such information accessible and useful to consumers. Finally, plans should also do more tying payment to objective measures of performance, in order to create consistent incentives for providers to improve the quality of care they deliver.