Healthcare on hold? Chronic conditions conference hears from former House leaders

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While healthcare reform may be a preferred topic among those seeking the White House and congressional seats, it may not be Job 1 after November elections. A slumping economy, a war in Iraq and other global issues may take priority, a once-powerful House member predicts.

Speaking Thursday at a healthcare policy forum, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt said he's not sure “the next president and the next Congress is going to take up [healthcare reform] first.” Gephardt and other panelists said bi-partisan collaboration will be needed to change healthcare policies and practices in the future.

The panel's primary focus was addressing ways to reduce chronic conditions, which are rampant in long-term care settings. Panelists noted that seven of every 10 deaths in this nation are the result of chronic conditions. They added that such conditions are connected to three quarters of all healthcare spending.