Health Care Reform - 1993 Redux!!
The Obama Administration’s aggressive and seemingly frantic pressure to get a health care bill passed over the next few weeks (a virtual impossibility) brings back memories of sixteen years ago, in 1993 when the newly inaugurated Clinton Administration tried exactly the same thing. And it was that very aggressiveness on the part of (most particularly) Hilary Clinton that (thankfully) ultimately doomed the project. I predict the same thing will happen again in 2009.No one has a clue – not the Administration, not Congress, not any economists or financial wizards – as to what the costs of the colossal plan are or how it will be funded. And one thing is for sure – it will cost way, way more than even the most conservative estimates of today.And before we all simply let the Government take over one more important piece of our economy, let’s ask a few questions of our Federal Government.Question One – What experience have you, the Federal Government, had in running a health care system?The one health care system the Government actually runs is for our veterans, and it is under the management of the VA (Veterans Administration). Ask anyone who has had any involvement in the system, and they will tell you horror story after horror story. Just two days ago, the New York Times (www.newyorktimes.com) had a front page article on the disastrous (and negligently criminal) state of affairs at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia. It pointed out that over a period of six years, 92 of 116 prostate operations had gone awry!!! According to the article, the hospital had broken equipment, poor supervision and no peer review system.Ask any veteran who has diabetes if he/she has access to the latest and best drugs. They don’t, because the Federal Government will not pay for the newer and more expensive drugs. Perhaps that’s what the Administration means when they say that we must cut costs.Question Two – Members of Congress, what health care plan do you have? Is it private or public?Only the best! Members of Congress and their families get a Cadillac, gold-plated, platinum version of health care, and guess what? They don’t pay for it – we do!!!! They can pick whatever doctors they want; they have no (or nearly no) co-pay. They have no deductibles. And guess what? It is a PRIVATE plan, not a Government run plan.Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as my grandmother used to say. So write to your Congressman/Senator and demand that they give the rest of the country the very same plan that they have and see what the estimated costs will be. Or better still, ask them to accept the plan they are writing for the rest of the country.Question Three – Why isn’t tort reform part of this health care reform?Because there are more lawyers than medical professionals involved in designing the gargantuan health care project. Health care costs would be significantly lower today if the threat of litigation were reduced. Ambulance chasers have made a fortune at the expense of good, professional and talented doctors.Question Four – Since so many people are really happy with their insurance plan, why doesn’t the Government just come up with a plan for the uninsured?There are 47 million uninsured people in this country (according to the Government). Surely that is a large enough pool to get some great economies of scale. If the Government can prove that it has successfully dealt with 1/6 of the population (remember it has failed miserably with the veterans), then maybe we will consider giving it more territory.Question Five – If a national health care system is so wonderful, why do the Canadians and the British have to come to the United States to get treatment?We all know the answer to that one, but it is important to keep it in mind. Once health care comes under the domain of the Government, it will be rationed. Period, end of story. That is the ONLY way to reduce costs. But unfortunately, it also reduces care.Fortunately, people are already speaking loudly and clearly to their representatives in Washington regarding their concerns for Government taking over one more giant swath of the economy. If Congress listens, it will not rush headlong into creating another giant black hole of Government control and spending, but will bide its time and thoughtfully hear all the issues impacting those that practice medicine and those that receive medical care.