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Retail Alliances – Not Washington – Will Save the U.S. Health Care System

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  • Technology, Innovation & Health Care

    Gregg Slager argues that retailers will bring technology and innovation to health care.

  • Meeting with a Nurse Across a Card Table in a Broom Closet

    Gist Healthcare’s Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz argues that retailers like CVS will not replace doctors.

  • Who Can Afford Health Care?

    The panelists debate whether retailers or employers will bring affordable health care to lower-income communities.

  • Meet Eloise

    Rosemarie Day tells a story about health care in America – and how we can save it.

  • When Walmart Came to Town

    Can Walmart replace mom-and-pop pharmacies across the country? Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz and Rosemarie Day respond.

Debate Details

Last year, Intelligence Squared U.S. and the Mayo Clinic brought to the stage a bold inquiry about whether health care in the United States is terminally broken. And this year, we’re picking up where that discussion left off, against the backdrop of corporate behemoths announcing mergers that, they say, are sure to shake up health care – from the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase venture, to the CVS-Aetna deal, to the Humana-Walgreens partnership, and more. But while these superpower alliances are making a splash in the headlines, will they actually be able to disrupt, and save, U.S. health care? Proponents argue that the bargaining power and data competencies of these retailers will squeeze middlemen out of an inefficient supply chain and bring more transparency to health care pricing. But others argue that the promise of these novel efforts is overstated or misguided, particularly because U.S. health care is so complex and deeply rooted. Will consumer-focused models and employer-led initiatives lead to better and less expensive outcomes?



The Debaters

For the motion

Rajaie Batniji

Dr. Rajaie Batniji

Co-Founder & Chief Health Officer, Collective Health

Dr. Rajaie Batniji is a physician, political economist, and the co-founder of, and chief health officer at, Collective Health, an organization that... Read More

W. Gregg Slager

Senior Partner & Global Health Transactions Leader, EY

W. Gregg Slager is senior partner at the leading firm Ernst & Young and a founder of the company's global health sector. He currently serves as... Read More

Against the motion

Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz

Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz

Co-Founder & President, Gist Healthcare

Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz is the co-founder and president of Gist Healthcare. Her work combines national-level insight with a deep understanding of local... Read More

Rosemarie Day

Rosemarie Day

Founder & CEO, Day Health Strategies

Rosemarie Day is founder and CEO of Day Health Strategies. She has over 25 years of experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • When it comes to ensuring access to high-quality, affordable heath care in America, critics say that Washington has fallen short. Innovative and data-competent retail alliances could leverage competencies to overhaul and streamline this fractured system.
  • By pushing out unnecessary middlemen, ending secret pricing negotiations, and disclosing real pharmaceutical costs, employer-led initiatives, including those with retail partners, may be poised to lower costs and improve outcomes in certain sectors.  
  • Rather than relying on inefficient patient-focused or fee-for-service models, retail-affiliated ventures introduce a consumer-focused approach that could make health care more convenient, accessible, and affordable. 
Against The Motion
  • Critics say that emerging retail alliances lack the institutional knowledge to truly transform the United States’ complex and deeply fragmented health care system. Real change to the system requires both insight and support from experts and lawmakers in Washington.  
  • Retailers and employers are typically in the for-profit business. And eventually, they could focus more on advancing their bottom line – possibly at the expense of affordable and quality health care for consumers and employees. 
  • In trying to disrupt the U.S. health care system, retailers won’t just push out pharmacy benefit managers and health care consultants. As patients start treating medical procedures like shopping at the mall, they could also put family doctors and hospitals out of business.

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The Research

The Research

Why Apple, Amazon, and Google are making big health care moves

Dylan Scott
March 6, 2018

“The blue chips of Silicon Valley — Amazon, Apple, Google, Uber — have announced in the past few weeks they’re interested in disrupting an industry that has bedeviled us with rising costs and inefficiencies for decades.”

Healthcare industry, or consumer health industry?

Zane Burke
February 13, 2017

“We’re seeing major consumer companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon investing in healthcare, national shopping chains opening retail clinics, health systems opening grocery stores and pharmaceutical companies developing apps for patients to track symptoms and improve compliance.”

Bigger is Not Always Better: How Consolidation in Health Care Hurts Patients

Timothy Hoff
January 30, 2018

“Consolidation often limits competition, and when that happens in market-based systems especially the result, says good research, is often that the cost of health care goes up.”

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