Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting on message

Good for the Republicans. More and more I hear Republicans saying that the best way to reduce medical costs is by tort reform. Tort reform makes it more difficult to bring a frivolous lawsuit against a doctor or a hospital, and this in turn reduces the cost of malpractice insurance. Texas has implemented a review panel that reviews lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. To go forward a lawsuit must have the review board's stamp of approval. This in turn has reduced the cost of malpractice insurance, and has attracted more doctors to Texas.

Will this gain traction in Congress? It's questionable because the trial lawyers are big givers to Democrats. So keep pressing your congressman and senators.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I smell a rat

After weeks of fighting to include a “public option” in the health care bill the Obama administration suddenly backs off, saying the public option “is not the heart of the health care bill”. This may be good news, but there is still much to dislike in the health care bill:

  • Funding the health care system in part by taking $500 billion from Medicare over 10 years. Many doctors already refuse to take new Medicare patients, as I found out when I moved from Michigan to Texas last year. Currently Medicare pays 80% of the amount Medicare has established for a procedure (not 80% of the price the doctor quotes). If this reimbursement goes down to 60% or lower, fewer doctors will be willing to take Medicare patients. Seniors beware if you are contemplating a move.
  • Not only does the bill cover the 48 million Americans who allegedly lack health insurance, it extends to illegal aliens – upwards of 20 million people. With the bill’s stringent limits on how much doctors can be paid for their services, the number of doctors in the U. S. is likely to decline, leading to rationing of health care.
  • The so-called “Insurance coops” proposed by the health care bill can serve the same purpose as the public option: Giving the government control over coverage and treatment, eventually squeezing private insurers out of the health insurance business.
  • The public option is still in the House version of the bill and could be reinserted in conference.
At the end of the day the health care bill is not about health care at all. It’s about the Federal government taking control of health care decisions that ought to be made by private individuals and their doctors

Friday, August 7, 2009

Town Hall Meetings

With the arrival of the August Congressional recess, lawmakers are back in their districts holding town hall meetings. This year many of the meetings are experiencing large turnouts of not always polite participants. Conservatives, especially, are deeply concerned about the program President Obama is pushing:
  1. Will it increase taxes?
  2. What will happen to Medicare, with partial funding of the program coming from Medicare?
  3. Will it result in long waits for treatment and rationing of treatment?
Unfortunately, feeling is running so high that meetings have degenerated into shouting matches. As a conservative, I sympathize with the protesters. But are they accomplishing anything? I wonder. And the liberals are beginning to react with counterprotests. This is a recipe for violence, which no one in his right mind ought to want. Vigorous debate in a democracy is desirable. Disruption of meetings which ought to be forums for vigorous debate is not, and is destructive to democracy.
A month remains until Congress reconvenes. That’s enough time for Congress to hire a polling organization to sample every legislative district to find out what the electorate thinks of President Obama’s healthcare proposal and what reforms they advocate in health care. Then Congress can proceed with good information about what the public supports and does not support.