Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear Santa: Don't take away our health care system!

Our elected officials and federal government have given themselves quite a bounty of Christmas gifts at the expense of our personal freedoms and the integrity of the medical profession.

There is a rush to get the health care bill signed into law before 2010. Why? Perhaps our elected officials are letting their sentimental religious passions show.

Or maybe not.

Before I start the first 6 days of the 12 days of (Health Care) Christmas, lets all focus on what is important in terms of health care reform. We have all been very good this year and we want Santa to remember:

It is imperative that any health care reform measure considered (thanks Campaign for Responsible Health Care Reform)

1. Not create a government run health care system and thereby undermine private market competition and market-based negotiation;

2. Not tax employer-sponsored health care;

3. Reduce the growth in health care spending rather than accelerate it; and

4. Not increase the burden on employers at this difficult economic time.

Now, on to Barack Obama's Christmas wishes. (Remember Santa . . . he really hasn't been that good this year!)

On the First Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me "if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have."

Okay, Santa, remember: the reality is that because some companies will likely opt not to provide coverage, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the share of people covered by their employer would drop about by 10 percent, or 15 million.

Alas, more people will be funneled into the government system. That is precisely what Barack H. Obama wants because the more people rely on the government then the more power and control the federal government has over your life.
On the Second Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me "What this plan will do is make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.

And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies -- because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives."

Santa, we do not need the federal government to make these proposed changes. The most important relationship is between the physician and the patient. These proposals have layers of beaurocrats already in place to determine what care is the most cost effective.

There are many states that have set up high risk pools for patients with diseases such as cancer or heart disease. In addition to states, the American Cancer Society and other societies that received millions of dollars in donations could create high risk insurance pools.
On the Third Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me "creating a new insurance exchange -- a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we give ourselves."

Oh Santa, make no mistake about it - Barack Obama is absolutely asking you for a public option. The public option would be one of the health care plans offered on the new insurance exchange alongside private insurance companies' plans.

The House bill would establish a government-run public option. The Senate bill would instead establish national or regional co-operatives with the same objective of increasing competition among insurance providers and thus driving down the cost of insurance.

Obama and other Democrats have been putting too much brandy and rum in their eggnog. They actually believe that a public option or other government controlled co-op would increase healthy competition with the private insurance market. It is nonsensical to think that a government program (who makes its own rules, manipulates numbers, has no profit motive) can fairly compete with a company that has payroll, utilities bills and must play by rules made by its government "competitor."

The Wall Street Journal explains

"But here is where the huge risks of creating a "public plan" to compete with private insurance firms come into focus.

The United States is unique because it alone is the source of half of worldwide profits that provide the payoff for the lengthy and expensive process of developing new treatments. Competitive markets have generated the profits necessary to induce a steady flow of medical innovation in this country. A public-plan option would tend to dismantle that system. The people in charge will not know how to set reimbursement levels to motivate reasonable R&D efforts, and there is no reason to expect them to try.

Who knows what drugs will not be developed if reimbursement levels are too measly? In virtually every advanced economy but our own, pricing authorities simply make sure prices are high enough so that existing drugs continue to be made available. We can expect a public plan here to do the same. The inevitable result will be to undermine incentives to develop more of the immensely valuable medical technology that is central to all of health care."

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me "that for those individuals and small businesses who still can't afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we'll provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need. And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned.

This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right. In the meantime, for those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have preexisting medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill."
Santa, while you have Obama on your lap, ask him why the wait for the start of the exchange. Also ask Obama how our country can afford to pay for this.

Please explain to Obama that not all children get everything they want for Christmas! Give Obama a candy cane if he cries.
On the Fifth Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance -- just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.
Santa, this one really scares most of us. This is arguably the biggest change that Obama proposes to make to our current health insurance system. Under President Obama's health care plan and the legislation going through Congress, every American would be required to have basic health insurance. Those without insurance from an employer or government entity such as Medicare, Medicaid or the Veterans Affairs Department would be required to buy it or pay a fine.

The penalties levied against those without insurance would be $750 a year ($1,500 for families) under the Senate bill or 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income under the House bill.

Those (typically young) Americans that do not want health insurance will not be allowed to purchase catastrophic insurance. They will be required to purchase insurance that provides coverage for wellness visits, mental health care, physical therapy.

If we want the young Americans to be responsible and obtain coverage then they should be permitted to chose a high premium policy that coverages only catastrophic events (like auto accidents and cancer). As with all other Americans, these young people certainly should be permitted to search for the best coverage across state lines and without interference from the government.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, President Obama promised me under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
Santa, it is sad that our country still does not get that a baby is a separate and viable human being and deserves to have rights under your favorite Constitution that begins "We the People."

In actuality,
a House amendment approved in committee reads: "Abortion coverage prohibited as part of minimum benefits package." It allows federal funding for abortions under existing law, which is in the case of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life. It prohibits funding in other circumstances.

Senator Ben Nelson (D Nebraska) seems to be enjoying his enormous position of negotiating leverage. That fact is disturbing for a plethora of reasons - not the least of which is that our elected officials should be affected by constituents at least as much as they are by a Nebraska Democrat. This leverage reeks of some political gamesmanship and attempt to include pork.

Senator Nelson already rejected one proposed offer on abortions as insufficient, and the presence in the talks of Senator Barbara Boxer (D California) indicated additional changes were on the table. As we all know, Senator Boxer has a very strong record in favor of abortion rights.

Senator Nelson said the revised approach "would exclude any kind of federal funds directly or indirectly being used to fund elective abortions, and the question is always how you get them as tight as you can and still be able to get a common understanding and something that you could all agree to." The restrictions would cover all abortions except those involving rape, incest or if the life of the mother was in jeopardy.

The abortion issue is contentious because the legislation provides federal subsidies to help lower and middle-income families afford insurance and the other federal health care programs ban the use of government money to pay for abortions.

It seems very ironic that at the season of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, an infant conceived under unusual circumstances and whose parents had no physician or hospital to deliver the baby, we would be arguing about who should pay to kill a life.

Merry Christmas and watch for the remaining 6 days of (Health Care) Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the supportive comment. God bless your work helping people who don't have an over-bearing daughter as an advocate! It frightens me to think there are people (especially vulnerable, ill, elderly people) with no one to help them through the process.

    And you are absolutely correct - government health care or not ... patients (and patients families, friends) can never relinquish complete control over health care decisions to another person (not an insurance company, not a governmental entity, not even a medical provider!)

    Stay strong, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2010!