As a strong believer that we really need true, honest health reform in this country, I am disgusted by what Democrats have done with the issue. First, anyone that disagrees with Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi clearly ‘hates America’. Second, they are utilizing every classic 50 year old liberal policy to bring so-called ‘reform‘.
It is an outrage.
Unless we are willing to accept those above tenets, any further discussion is frankly a waste of oxygen.
Democrats have used their massive advantages in Congress to push extreme liberal agendas that ‘liberal thinkers’ have been pontificating for decades. That was simply a mistake, for a multiple of reasons. First, there is no proof that many of those concepts will work. Second, the public is not as liberal as Congress or the White House. Third, the bill is 1,300 pages at last count, and that much nonsense regulation is generally bad, and the majority of people know that. Heck, when Representatives say that they can’t bother to read the bill, then poeple get worried. That is part of the reason for the push back publically, and the plummeting poll numbers on health care.
The reality is this: the current health care bill is much too big, too invasive, and contains too little reform to be effective. The Congressional Budget Office, the only nonpartisan player in this game, basically agrees with these statements. If you read the CBO report on the House health care bill, they are actually far more pessimistic than I am, which speaks volumes.
The sad part is that there is a general tenor in the country that we need health care reform. Even polling of conservatives shows that. But Democrats are wasting that ground swell of support. Only 39% of Americans now support health care reform in the current form, down from over 50% earlier this year. That is clearly a result of the shell game that Democrats have been playing.
Here is the heart of the problem: the problems in Health care today are largely not macroeconomic problems, they are microeconomic. I know, this goes against every expert’s belief. I don’t care.
Yes, there are demographic problems with health care. We have to provide more and more care for older patients, with less and less relative younger workers to pay for the elderly. This is the reason Medicare (held up as the great liberal success) is going to go broke by 2017. That is true. However, that is only a small part of the problem. The bigger part is that individuals in this society frankly are demanding too much of their health care system. People want doctors to be perfect in diagnosing their problems in a field that perfection is impossible. They want absolute answers to their questions; in medicine, anything can be answered, at a price. The question is, is the answer worth the price? In many cases, the answer to that question is no.
Let me give you an example. Neck injuries have been extensively studied. It has been shown thatafter an injury such as a motor vehicle accident, if the patient complains of no pain or tenderness the chances of serious, non-muscular or soft tissue injury is virtually zero (meaning, that the risk of fracture is virtually nil). Yet, you will see numerous patients get CT and MRIs of their necks for those injuries, even without any symptoms of pain. ER physicians know this, and generally would not order these tests otherwise. So why does it happen? First, patients demand these test, first of all because they don’t want to ‘take a risk’, even if that risk is virtually zero. Why take a risk, when it costs the patient nothing to eliminate even the small risk that exists? Second, ER physicians, like all physicians, have an extremely difficult time saying no, because what if this is the one patient out of a million that has a fracture without pain? In that case, the ER physician would be sued…and could lose everything.
This is just a microcosm of the problem. I can give you example after example that confirms my argument. On the patient side, the patient has no incentive to skip an expensive test, because IT COSTS THEM NOTHING! The ER physician has no incentive to say no, because saying no COULD COST HIM EVERYTHING.
These are the questions that Congress must answer if they are really interested in reform. We must make patients more responsible for decisions, and make them pay for decisions that don’t meet the best practice standards of the medical community. And we have to allow doctors to start saying no to their patients. Without those two reforms, cost controls will never occur.
Moving money from here to there, increasing taxes, increasing mandates, that is all well and good. But the heart of the matter is based on individuals. Until Washington is willing to face that reality, we will not get useful health care reform in this country.