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Healthcare Technology and Hillary -- It Takes a Village

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Hillary. That's what people are going to be talking about in healthcare this week. She will make a statement on Wednesday evening in Orlando. On the national stage as a potential Democratic Party nominee for President, she's the buzz. As Obamacare becomes a reality both through federal and state exchanges as well as private corporate exchanges, we have Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton (and to a lesser extent Bill Clinton and even Ira Magaziner) to thank.

In her popular book, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, Secretary Clinton advances the idea of societal responsibilities for raising our young people. Today, we are seeing what First Lady Clinton was advocating back in 1993-94. A full 20 years ago, she fought for healthcare reform. During those years, entrenched interests and the sheer magnitude of the technology dilemma -- even mapping how people might sign-up for insurance -- was too unwieldy. Now, technology has seemingly caught-up.

This week at the HIMSS conference in Orlando, Secretary Clinton will call for better enrollment technology. We will see myriad innovations to help Americans gain access to affordable healthcare through the competitive (albeit government supported) exchanges. Some of the interesting companies in the space will help folks navigate these sites and drive "conversions" using Avatars. Private industry will permit the Obamacare system to thrive -- and soon. Led by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, a HIMSS keynoter the morning after the Secretary, and Gary Cohen, CIO at CMS, his chosen systems integrator Accenture, and supported by tech heavy-weights, the back-end data and knowledge bases will soon match-up.

Tom Leary, VP of Government Relations for HIMSS, said he hopes the CIO and CMS will work with healthcare providers. "We want them to work with us on new levels of testing. We can learn from stage one and stage two," he said of Obamacare implementation.

As for individual and small business mandates or healthcare companies being compliant with revised deadlines, Leary said: "With CMS, we are asking for a little 'wiggle room' on enforcement discretion."

Here is why Obamacare is going to work: numbers. When you think about the juggernaut that was and still is the new democratic get-out-the-vote (GOTV) and voter empowerment movement, clearly it's all about delivering constituent services and bringing voters to the polls. Voters still run our democracy. Now, hundreds of thousands of Americans are clamoring for access to healthcare, reducing overly burdensome rate structures and avoiding pre-existing conditions exceptions. These very same people vote.

It was interesting to watch Republican Governors, among them Rick Scott right here in Florida where HIMSS is taking place, change their tune about standing-up state exchanges. Why? Florida has more retirees than anywhere in the U.S. and they vote. Seniors VOTE. Access to Medicare options and health exchanges for retirees -- such as those hosted by the major employee benefits consulting firms -- is paramount to them.

People can talk all they want about socializing medicine. About doctors excluding Obamacare Patients with Medicare options. About the exchange systems failure in the early days. Ted Kennedy's lifetime vision was for universal healthcare. Hillary Clinton took up the mantel. Barack Obama delivered.

What we are seeing is that voters vote with their choices. Let's make the case that the new Affordable Care Act implementation is a great exercise in democracy. Hundreds of thousands, including the young, the old, and (again) those most likely to turn-up at the polls during midterms, are "voting" with their new healthcare selections.

Mike Smith is a Washington-area public affairs exec and supports new innovations to help patients navigate the labyrinth of ACA.