Health Care Reform: Change we can all believe in?
By Paul R. Ehrmann, D.O.
“ I think the chances are high for passing legislation by the August recess.”
— White House Budget Director Mr. Peter Orszag – Fox News Sunday – 7/19/09
“The more we inspect the House Bill 3200, the more it looks to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever introduced in Congress.”
— Wall Street Journal – “Repealing Erisa” – 7/20/08
We will all need to pay close attention, analyze and offer input to our elected officials as they attempt to overhaul our present health care system.
Over the past two months, most polling services appear to agree that:
People want health care reform that improves the present system.
Those who have insurance, do not want their care and cost to be adversely affected with this effort.
According to several surveys, content of the present health care reform legislation is very important, but cost seems to be more important.
Approximately 250 million people presently have insurance they are happy with.
Approximately 50 million or fewer people involuntarily lack a basic level of health care insurance.
The fundamental question that will need to be addressed will be:
Do we want to attempt to improve the access, affordability and quality of health care for all American citizens to be developed, implemented, executed and maintained by the private sector, by the public (government) sector, or a combination of both?
The Legislative Process
The President has entered a self-imposed mandate of August 8th (he has moved this back as of Sunday, June 20th) to get a reconciled bill on his desk from the two House and two Senate Committees that are presently crafting legislation. Therefore, we all need to act now and make our positions clear.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Ways and Means, Education and Labor and the Energy Committees have formulated their own portions of the Tri-Committee House health care reform bill, the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act.” –HR-3200
In the Senate, the Health Education Labor and Pension Committee has also introduced their version http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/help-bill.pdf
and the Finance Committee is working on their bill, soon to be released. All bills will be merged into one reconciled bill for the President’s signature soon. There is still time to prevent this from happening — but we have to act now.
We should all read this legislation, combined, all 1,800 pages plus, and insist that our elected officials do the same.
Political Horsetrading continues
In the usual political two-step, organizations and groups have been given carrots by this administration so they can get a place at the table (pharmaceutical companies, large retailers, hospital, medical and senior groups) in exchange for public support of this administration’s position.
Once the horsetrading begins, those groups then have given permission to be used as tools, being manipulated and portrayed in the media as representing the interests of all their members, thereby trying to publicly influence the undecided. The truth is, millions of the members within these groups are being falsely represented as agreeing with their parent groups. In fact, around the country there is a groundswell of individual discontent that has come out against the administration’s health care position. If you feel you are being misrepresented, you need to call that group and let them know.
Decisions about your health care should remain with you and your doctor. They should not lie with bureaucrats who cloak their real positions behind closed doors while presenting publicly their moral high ground arguments that they care more about you then their own political future.
You should insist that your doctor puts you, the patient, first — above all other interests (1).
Game On – Timing to act is critical
Undeniably, there are issues that need improvement with our present health care system. While there are some good ideas on the table from both sides of the aisle that truly provide assistance to those that need it, the underlying core of HR 3200 and related bills is more government interference. This will carry with it the unintended consequences of quality inefficiencies and cost overruns that will plunge this nation even further into debt and is simply not the right solution for the majority of Americans.
When was the last time you remember any governmental programs coming in on or below budget? What is the experience of Canada and Great Britain with long waiting lines for care? Health care systems where care is either delayed, denied or rationed particularly around end of life needs and medical innovation and research slowed to a trickle. The experience with universal care in Massachusetts is the same. After two years of implementation, it is coming apart at the seams.
These one size fits all programs should give us a glimpse into our future with a government takeover of our health care. Rather than getting problematic legislation rammed down our throats, all politicians need to read and carefully evaluate these examples of adverse outcomes before making what could be the most important decision of our lives. Tell your legislators that they need to slow down, read the bills and, above all, pay attention to the desires of their constituents. In fact, a recent poll suggests that a governmental takeover of health care is not what the majority of Americans want (2). Tell your representative and senator that we need to improve the system by making it more patient centered and wring out present system inefficiencies (such as fraud and abuse and tort reform just to name a few) and not rely on the government to overhaul our present system.
I realize there are many people who feel this legislation is the right idea. If you believe that politicians with no health-care experience and this legislation’s proposed Federal Health Board (3) are trustworthy, can stay within budget and will make the right decisions for expensive care needed for your sick baby in the neonatal intensive care unit or your grandmother who is in pain and needs surgery due to a broken hip, then do nothing. That inaction will voice your support for the present U.S. Congressional effort.
Crawshaw R, Rogers DE, Pellegrino ED, Bulger RJ, Lundberg GD, Bristow LR, et al. Patient-physician covenant. JAMA. 1995; 273:1553
Rasmussen Poll-Week of July 16, 2009-http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/healthcare/july_2009/49_oppose_health_care_reform_plan_46_favor_it
The Federal Health Board will be made up of 17 bureaucrats appointed by the Secretary of HHS.
Wall Street Journal – What’s Up Docs?
(5) White house switchboard-202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414
(6) Emails, Fax and Phone numbers-members of U.S. Congress
Mayo Clinics position on present Congressional Health Reform efforts-
Private Health Insurance will cease to exist-Investor Business Daily-7/15/09
(3) Good source for objective daily updates:
Wall Street Journal
DocPauls Health Care reform Blog-https://drpaulehrmann.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/hello-world
Dr. Ehrmann is a Family Practice Physician for the past 28 years.
This view is solely the opinion of Paul R. Ehrmann, D.O. and does not represent the views of other groups or organizations.