Saturday, November 7, 2009

Eleven Health Reform Agreements

1) Let us agree that the American people are coming to the conclusion, with respect to the economy as a whole, and health care in particular, that we are trying and promising to do too much, too soon, for too much money, with too few proven savings, with too much debt with too little results.

2) Let us agree that all parties in the reform effort,Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, have good intentions - to bring better health care to more people at lower costs – but in a complex system like ours, 70 years in the making, unintended consequences are inevitable, such as greater coverage for the uninsured but with lesser access to doctors, and taxes and penalties on device makers, drug companies, and health plans, which will be passed on to consumers as greater costs.

3) Let us agree that a growing doctor shortage exists and that health care crisis of great magnitude looms if 36 million more Americans become insured as 75 million baby boomers begin to become Medicare eligible.

4) Let us agree that Medicare and Medicaid pay 20% to 50% less than private plans and that if a public option is tied to Medicare and Medicaid rates more and more doctors will be unable to afford to accept patients from public plans, intensifying the access crisis.

5) Let us agree that the current health plan’s proposals that health plans accept all comers (guaranteed issue), including those pre-existing conditions, and that plans be unable to rescind coverage for any member, are fair and equitable, but that at the same time these proposals will sharply increase premium costs.

6) Let us agree that community rating, the same premiums for all, regardless of age and health status, and mandated comprehensive benefits, such as chiropractic , dental, vision, and autism coverage, have the net effect of driving up premium costs.

7) Let us agree that the American legal system, with the latitude of trial lawyers to pursue unlimited jury awards, differs from that of other nations and indirectly, through forcing doctors to practice defensive medicine, creates an overly litigious practice environment that drives up cost without necesarily decreasing malpractice.

8) Let us agree that the American health system needs reform and that this reform can be either incremental or massive and that massive reform is something the American people are having a difficult time accepting because it represents a radical departure from the past, unwanted government intervention into their private lives, and a threat to retaining their existing health plans.

9) Let us agree that the health care industry is a bright spot in the nation’s employment picture: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the start of the recession, the industry has added 597,000 jobs compared to the 15 million lost over the entire economy.

10) Let us agree that competition unleashed by permitting health consumers to own their own health plans and to shop across state lines for plans they can afford or that fit their needs would be a giant step forward in reining in health costs.

11) Let us agree that one man’s “special interest” is another man’s “livelihood,” and that political power is its own “special interest.”

No comments: