Thursday, July 09, 2009

Healthcare, the argument for and against

Continuing the health care debate, I ran across this column by Steven Findlay in USA Today. I chose this column to rebut because Findlay does a good job at summarizing the pro-reform crowd who are convinced that our medical system is deeply flawed and must be completely overhauled. I encourage you to read Findlay’s words, and then read my response to his talking points below. Findlay is just one example of many who clearly don’t understand the facts of this debate and are therefore either ignorant of the issue or are deliberately trying to deceive the public into supporting something that will ultimately be harmful. You can decide that for yourself. Here are some of Findlay’s main points:

Gov’t insurance wouldn’t have a competitive advantage over the private industry. “it wouldn't be that difficult to design a public option that abides by the same rules as private insurers and has no competitive advantage”. The argument is that a gov’t system would eventually squeeze out the private sector and before long we would all find ourselves insured by the government, thus putting our health in the hands of bureaucrats. What would start out as a “government option” would eventually become the only option. Findlay says this is a bogus argument, that no such scenario would happen and anyone who beats that drum is just fear-mongering. Bull.

How Findlay can say that a gov’t program would have no competitive advantage over the private sector is beyond me. A “public option” would have a huge competitive advantage in federal subsidies. The bottomless pockets of the US taxpayer would ensure that a public option could undercut the market and eventually drive away any competitors. Private companies don’t have access to this type of subsidy. So this fear is very real. A public option could most definitely become the only option, just as it is in Canada and England.

Quality and access won’t suffer. “Cookbook and rationed care? This fear stems from concerns that the government aims to dictate what doctors do and cut costs by limiting access to care. These notions are wrong. Rather, what Obama and both Democratic and Republican leaders want to do is aggressively measure the quality of care that doctors and hospitals deliver and change the way those providers get paid so quality of care — rather than quantity — is rewarded.” It’s simple math. Today’s doctors manage a group of patients while walking a fine line between quantity and quality. However, we get paid by volume, the more patients we see the more payment we get. That allows for good access since most doctors can comfortably see 3-4 patients an hour and still deliver quality care. But what if this were changed so that ONLY quality was rewarded? Well, suddenly doctors wouldn’t be as concerned about volume. Spending 30-45 minutes with a patient would lead to better payments, meanwhile access vanishes. A doctor that usually sees 3-4 patients an hour is now seeing one or two. In other words, appointments will be hard to come by. Quality and Quantity in medicine are inversely related. That is a hardened fact. Increase one at the other’s expense. Today, we walk that line rather well, but changing the rules puts access at risk. And when you consider that 45 million people will suddenly flood the primary care system in a public option and it’s easy to see just how difficult it will be to get in and see your doctor.

“The medical industry must be challenged to cuts costs;” Findlay says that medicine is too expensive and much of this comes from unnecessary tests and procedures. He wants a leaner, more efficient medical community, with doctors who only order tests that are necessary. I agree with this, but changing the current system of compensation isn’t the way to go about it. Findlay and those like him seem to think that we order unnecessary tests because it is financially beneficial to do so. That’s untrue. If I order a CT scan, I don’t see a dime of that money. However, ordering such a scan, even though the likelihood of finding an abnormality is slim, could potentially protect me from a lawsuit a few years down the road. This is called defensive medicine. I know that this patient doesn’t need a CT scan. But I also know that in a courtroom, a hired physician can armchair-quarterback in front of a jury and claim that I should have ordered that scan and potentially saved the patient some pain and suffering. It’s very, very easy to armchair-quarterback in medicine. So I order the scan, and this ultimately costs the system, which is wrong.

In order to stop things like this, then it’s the legal system that should be reformed. When doctors stop fearing the lawsuit, then they are more apt to avoid the unnecessary tests. Findlay makes absolutely no reference to the legal community in his article.

An earlier post of mine referred to some key points about improving health care in America. 2 of those things involve reforming the payers, so that we don’t have to hire people to fight with insurance and medicare in order to get our payments, and we don’t have to deal with declining reimbursement for our services. I also mentioned tort reform and more focus on preventive medicine. If these things aren’t addressed, then the system will not improve. Findlay didn’t hit a single one of these points. He simply has no idea, and neither does Washington.


jacksmith said...


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


Anonymous said...

"In order to stop things like this, then it’s the legal system that should be reformed. When doctors stop fearing the lawsuit, then they are more apt to avoid the unnecessary tests."

For someone who understands that insurance companies are the devil, it is really disheartening to hear you chant the mantra of "Reform the legal system."

That is such a canard. I think you know how hard it is to win a med mal case. For every "arm chair quarteback" a plaintiff's atty is able to retain--at usurious rates which money comes right out of the atty's pocket--the malpractice insurance company can roll out a warehouse of them.

Stop blaming the attys.



Yeeaah, you wanted CHANGE, You did it, bought into "Big Progressive", and Big Stimulus, Government Motors & UAW, plus S.E.I.U. and A.C.O.R.N. (To Organize the Neighborhoods ya know), and now The Killer Medical to put us all into A Third World Health Care with double-digit Unemployment Insurance for the poor, confused disenchanted productive citizens lining up for Free Gubmint Cheese!

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