Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beliefs and Disbeliefs on Reform among Independent Voters

Prelude: The following lists of what independent voters believe is from a September 1 piece in the New York Times, “Who Believes in Health Care’ Myths’?”

A survey, conducted in mid-August for Indiana University, says that when looking at statements that the Obama administration says are myths, Republicans tend to believe the statements and Democrats tend to disbelieve them.

Independents, however, go both ways, believing some and not believing others, so their responses seem to be good indications of where the administration has succeeded and where it has failed.

Here are the statements that independents believed and disbelieved. Clear majorities of independents believe these statements to be true: In italics, I insert my beliefs on the validity of the various statements.

• The federal government will become directly involved in making personal health care decisions for the public.

Currently a myth, but maybe not if H.R. 3200 is any indication and if final bill contains similar indications of necessity of bureaucratic intervention.

• Health care will be rationed.

This seems likely if proposed $500 billion cuts in Medicare are needed to keep the program solvent. Government has only two options for cutting costs: pay providers less or ration.

• Taxpayers will be required to pay for abortions.

This is flat-out myth.

• Waiting time for services like surgery will increase.

This is likely to happen if general surgeon shortage persists and if access to care for the uninsured is expanded as is the case in Massachusetts.

• Small businesses will be hurt.

The American Chamber of Commerce, which represent small businesses, fears this will occur if 8% coverage of employees is mandated.

• A public option that competes with private insurance companies will be too expensive for the nation to afford.


• A public option will actually increase premiums for those with private insurance.

No evidence to suggest this would happen.

At the same time, majorities of independents do not believe these statements:

• the government will make the elderly decide how and when to die.

Not so, but House Bill does propose to pay doctors to advise patients about end-of-live options, hospice, and writing of living wills.

• Millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance.

Probably not, but if public option passes it is likely employers will drop coverage and employees will switch to public option. They would lose their current insurance but gain another insurance.

• Private insurance or employer-sponsored insurance will be eliminated.

This is myth, but with cheaper public option employers may drop out of employer-sponsored coverage race. Many politicians have said dropping of employer sponsored insurance with replacement by employee and individual tax credits would save the nation monvey.

• A public option will put private insurance companies out of business.

This is denied by public option advocates, but seems likely if premiums are 30% to 40% less. A public option would be cheaper because it would not have the expenses and overhead required by private plans.

• illegal immigrants will be covered.


• The elderly will have to undergo euthanasia counseling every five years.

Myth, but the elderly may have option of end-of-life counseling paid for by government.

• The overhaul will cover more people by making cuts to Medicare .

This seems inevitable if “savings” proposed by Obama administration fall to materialize, if past record of Medicare “savings” is any indication, if present path towards Medicare bankruptcy continues unabated, and if government plans to cover 46 million more people currently not covered.

Majorities of both parties and independents agreed limiting the amount of money awarded in malpractice cases would decrease the cost of health care. This item, however, is not in any of the bills. Lawmakers, many of whom are lawyers, have said it was too contentious to add to big legislative packages that already contain other contentious items.


Nathan Reagan said...

Dr. Reece,

Thank you for taking the time to research and publish this. I have been so tired of all of the myths floating around. If only the entire US were reading your blog! lol.

Richard L. Reece, MD said...

Well, thank yoou, especially for the sentiment you wish the entire U..S. was reading my blog. do