This is Part 2, my opening remarks. These and all future annotations will be synched to the main debate tape, which is downloadable from the Population Health Alliance website. “Synched” meaning that the exchanges being annotated below can be found at the points in the tape noted in bold.
Click here if you haven’t already listened to/read Part 1.
I got a chuckle for my opening line but Ron clearly won the style points on opening lines.
You’ll note my opening statement contains no unsupported claims, whereas his entire opening statement was nothing but unsupported claims. I am all about proof and examples — all of which are in the public domain, easily sourceable, and on this site. Many come right from him and his cronies, in their multitudinous gaffes. Ron isn’t debating me as much as he is “debating” against his own industry. The walk-backs, disavowals, concessions etc. make my presence almost superfluous.
I review Penn State’s ill-fated wellness program. This is a layup. Worst program ever, and Ron’s fingerprints are all over it. I get some laughs for my riff on testicles, which were a major focus of the Penn State program, along with a disproportionate number of questions about ladyparts.
Ron interrupts (with my permission) to say: “I had absolutely nothing to do with Penn State.” I observed that he was in the room defending it, and gave chapter and verse , referring to the screenshot below and quoting the title. He must have assumed I didn’t see that article. But at the time many journalists contacted me, dumbfounded that Ron, Highmark’s Don Fischer and Penn State’s Susan Basso were still defending it.
The exact quote from that article, in which he was in the room, on the call:
I review Nebraska. Because I did not anticipate the pants-on-fire Wellsteps-Boise Koop Award in 2016 — the type of lying that gives lying a bad name — I call Nebraska “the most dishonest program ever” …and yet Ron gave them a Koop Award and steadfastly refused to rescind it (since the vendor was a sponsor of the award) even after they admitted lying following my expose of their lies. [Postscript: Ron has now completed the rewrite of the history of this program. Fortunately we took screenshots along the way, documenting each time he tampered with the original application.]
I quote Ron’s co-authored HERO guidebook — which of course, in a major gaffe (gaffe is defined as “accidentally telling the truth”) — admitted wellness loses money. If this debate were in a court of law, the case wouldn’t even get to the jury. It’s called estoppel. If you have said something on the record, you can’t turn around and say the opposite. So the debate is technically over, legally speaking.
His response (actually the moderator jumped in to defend him) was, that was just one data set. No, that data set was quite representative of the decline in events that takes place regardless of a program, and in any case, who deliberately plants an invalidating data set in their own propaganda? No, these people just didn’t notice that the costs on Page 15 exceeded the savings on Page 23. And they are the self-professed experts in measuring outcomes.
Costs ($1.50 PMPM):
Savings ($0.99 PMPM):
I reference two proofs. First, the one that says wellness can’t work. Next, my proof that the official government database shows quite literally no impact of workplace wellness on cardiometabolic inpatient admissions this century. Ron accepts this proof. He is caught. His own employer, Truven, holds the contract for managing this database. If he claims the data is flawed (it isn’t), he disses his own employer. So the debate is technically over, mathematically speaking. He just admitted wellness has been completely ineffective. Game, set and match to me. However, wellness apologists don’t understand fifth-grade math (hence this site), so few people in the room understood that the debate had ended.
I reference the million-dollar reward that we’ve offered to anyone who can show that wellness has broken even. Of course, Ron hasn’t claimed it. I offered the reward because even people who don’t understand mathematical proofs understand that someone who backs his claims with $1-million must believe them. By declining to collect the $1-million (the reward has rules and is a legally binding contract), Ron is admitting he and his cronies are lying about the effectiveness of wellness.
I point out that RAND and the New York Times are both on my side. The Times, I noted, “was laughing at you folks for how bad your analysis was.” I continue with many more examples of both the left wing and right wing media skewering wellness. “You guys are running out of wings.” Ron attempts no rebuttal even though I had offered to let him interrupt me if I said something inaccurate. But there’s nothing inaccurate about my portrayal of the mainstream media’s position on workplace “pry, poke and prod” wellness. It’s all here. They hate it.
[Postscript: You can now add Slate, STATNews, and many others to list of publications which have skewered wellness, all linked from here.]
I point out the many instances in which Ron’s own cronies have gone rogue. Altarum, Debra Lerner, and Michael O’Donnell (three times) are all examples of Koop Committee members who deliberately or accidentally dissed wellness. And I reiterate that the HERO Report, that Ron co-authored, admits wellness loses money. This report was signed by 60 wellness apologists. Basically the entire industry admitted failure, in the industry’s biggest-ever gaffe. See our 8-part critique of that ill-fated venture.
Thus ended the two prepared opening statements. By the way, a shout-out for Fred Goldstein, the moderator. In reviewing this tape I had clocked Ron’s “5-minute” opening speech at 9 minutes, but I was allotted the same length. The next installments will cover the rebuttals.
This is an outstanding and entertaining series. One of your best, Al.
Don’t forget to send Ron a thank-you note as well.