Remember that joke about “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” We have an elephant in Congress called “Health Care Reform” and the present administration is trying to force America to swallow it whole. This massive takeover of our health care system will create a slew of unintended consequences and costs. The millions of citizens who realize this are routinely disparaged and dismissed by elected officials and the media.
President Obama and his Congressional leaders should back off immediately from their threats to force this bill through on reconciliation. 2600+/- pages of legislation written behind closed doors by lawyers, legislators, unions, and special interests can only be contaminated with perks, payoffs, distortions, and destructive mandates. Obama is in the last stages of desperation – fearing a political loss – and is reacting by pulling every string he can to ram the bill through Congress and sign it into law. He does not care about, and is oblivious to, the wishes of the majority of Americans. This entire situation is all about him. He will decide what is best for the rest of us 306 million other Americans.
The best cure for this headless monster grinding its way toward potential passage is a good explosion.* All versions of the bill should be stacked on the street in front of the Capitol and detonated by the DC bomb squad. The resulting confetti should then be reviewed, piece by piece. Each piece should be debated on the merits of: “How much will this cost”? “Are we raiding Medicare to pay for this new entitlement”? “Will the patient have any say in their treatment”?
Health care costs more today because we get better care than ever before. Health care costs have risen dramatically for several reasons. First is the amazing development of technology and wonder drugs which have accelerated exponentially since penicillin became available in the early ‘40s. Does anyone want to go back to when life expectancy was 63? Our present life expectancy is now 78 and such progress costs money.
Second, the true cost is hidden from the consumer. The massive handoffs of medical costs to HMOs and insurance companies that occur in our present system create a negative insulating effect. Back when people paid their GP doctor directly, it was a payment for services rendered between two individuals. Now the doctor bills the insurance company for whatever amount the HMO will pay. The patients do not care about the true cost because their only cost was a small co-pay. The involvement of the insurance company separates the doctor and the patient from a true arms-length transaction. Health savings accounts and catastrophic insurance coverage go a long way toward redressing these market distortions, but are disfavored in this bill.
Third, Trial lawyers pick apart even a good doctor’s care and make health care costs rise for everyone. Lawyers delight in gathering up “victims” of medical malpractice and bringing lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, and medical suppliers. They cherry pick venues and jury shop for the best jackpot potentials and then either force an expensive settlement or brazenly convince a jury that there is some connection between a procedure or medicine and the adverse effects on their clients. These trends have led to huge liability insurance burdens for all providers in the industry. Thousands of specialist physicians have discontinued certain procedures completely.
The flip side is that billions are spent on redundant and unnecessary tests for the sole reason to escape the potential of a damaging lawsuit if and when a patient does not recover satisfactorily. The costs of the huge liability insurance premiums and superfluous tests are passed along to patients, HMOs and health insurance firms. Any attempt to redress this situation is totally missing in the legislation proposed.
Government interference in the insurance market increases costs. State insurance commissioners tell insurance firms which services and procedures they must cover. As a result, consumers are left with poor choices of insurance policies. A policy available in Colorado usually cannot be purchased in Washington. Therefore, people cannot select among a wide variety of plans and are strictly limited to plans approved by their state government. This unduly restricts interstate competition among insurance companies who; being in business to gain customers and make a profit would quickly fill the gaps if allowed to and increase consumer choice dramatically. The health care bill makes no attempt to resolve this impediment, either.
These are just a few of the situations that are adversely affecting health care costs and insurance availability. Each issue should be dealt with honestly if Obama truly wishes to reform care and reduce costs for the good of the entire country. President Obama should stand before the American people and pull the pin on these massive and dangerous schemes he has supported for so long. He should stop his arrogant, obstinate refusal to embrace reality and demand Congress start from a clean sheet of paper. His popularity will skyrocket if he is man enough to admit a mistake before it metastasizes into a national disaster.
Here is a great clip which took place during a recent Congressional committee hearing:
Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers really hits the nail on the head.
* I do not advocate any violence or mischief towards people or buildings. When I say “bomb it,” I am merely referring to the 2,600+ pieces of paper that contain the printed words of the health care takeover bill. I am suggesting a symbolic and safe demonstration of our distaste for these proposed new laws.