The Healthcare Summit chaired by President Obama, quite frankly, was a farce. From what I heard, President Obama spoke the most, followed by the Democrats, then by the Republicans. By a couple of accounts, the President chided the Republicans for not seeing it his way. In the end, the Democrats came out of the meeting with the thought that the only way to pass any legislation was by the process of reconciliation, and that the majority of Americans wanted the legislation. As President Obama stated:
I’d like Republicans to do a little soul searching to find out if there are some things that you’d be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance*, and dealing seriously with the pre-existing conditions issue. I don’t know frankly whether we can close that gap.
And if we can’t close that gap, then I suspect Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are going to have a lot of arguments about procedures in Congress about moving forward.
However, CNN reported that a Gallup poll states “that a majority of Americans would oppose a move by Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary procedure called ‘reconciliation’ to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass their health care reform legislation by a simple majority vote. A Gallup survey released Thursday morning indicates that 52 percent of the public opposes using reconciliation, with 39 percent favoring the move, and 9 percent unsure.”
What this is telling me that the Democrats aren’t listening to the American people. We may want reform of the health care system, but not by this political process.
But the bigger question that no one really seems to want to address is why health care costs (and insurance premiums) are rising. In my own humble opinion, I think I can point out a few.
1) Costs are rising because the government reimburses doctors at below cost rates. The doctors have to make up the difference between Medicare/Medicaid patients and those covered by private insurers. The insurance companies will charge higher premiums to make up for the higher billing rates.
2) Drug companies R & D takes up horrendous amounts of capital to develop new treatments for the endless supply of ailments. I have heard that only 1 in 15 treatments are effective and will pass FDA guidelines, and that is after years of research and testing.
3) Medical malpractice insurance coverage on doctors is tremendous. Often, lawsuits are settled out of court because of the time and expense in defending what many times is a frivolous claim. Those claims that actually make it to court result in clogging the court system and costing everyone millions of dollars. (Note: people who are really hurt or die because of inept doctors should be compensated with the doctors being punished both criminally and civilly.) The cost of the premiums the doctors pay is passed on the the insurance companies which charge higher premiums which are paid by the consumer (you).
4) Fraud is another cost that drives the cost up. An example of this would be elective cosmetic surgery to correct a deviated septum, aka, rhinoplasty, aka a “nose job” covered by insurance as a necessary procedure. We have also heard that many of the government programs have their own levels of fraud and abuse which cost millions of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps it is this last that riles so many people – If the government cannot keep it’s own house free from fraud, then why would we want them to run it?
If you have noticed anything from the above, 3 out of 4 causes for costs to continue to rise have to do with politicians, lawyers, and government. Those three have nothing to do with improving the quality or cost of healthcare for everyone, but with covering someone’s rear end. Should the government take over healthcare, we’ll be paying the government our healthcare premiums instead of private industry, and we all know how well the government controls costs…
To really reform the healthcare industry in this country, the causes of the increases in costs must be addressed first, not the businesses that make it possible for people to even have coverage and treatment in the first place. And for this reason, Mr. President, you need to ditch the 2,400-page monstrosity with all of its deals and special provisions, and start over from scratch.
* Do you remember that the number a couple of years ago was 47 Million? Where did the other 17 Million go?
UPDATE: The American Spectator has an article that is very informative and realistic about the state of Healthcare.