Friday, November 20, 2009
The Healthcare Reform Travesty
By Alan Caruba
Other than the complete destruction of the U.S. economy, one sixth of which is generated by the healthcare profession, I cannot see any reason for the bill that Harry Reid is pushing for a Saturday evening vote in the Senate.
It has taken less than a year for the Democrats, led by Barack Obama, to saddle Americans with such enormous debt that your grandchildren will be paying it off. The so-called “bail-outs” have proven to be a bonanza for Wall Street firms on good terms with the Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, whose mantra is “It’s all Bush’s fault.” The “stimulus” bill has not stimulated anything except lies about “jobs created and saved.”
Rush Limbaugh calls Congress a “Kamakazi Congress” and the “Suicide Bomber Congress” because it is obvious that any Democrat Congressman or woman and any Senator who votes for this atrocious bill, probably without having read it, will be thrown out of office. And should be!
Ignoring all the town hall protests, the tea parties across the nation, and the massive September 12 rally in Washington, D.C. has to come with a penalty, but by then it will be too late for most Americans.
The November 23 edition of Business Week had a cover story by Catherine Arnst titled “Why Wait for Health Reform: Ten Ways to Cut Costs Right Now.” It makes clear that all the so-called reforms contained in the 2,000-plus page bill could be achieved in ways that do not require a monster piece of legislation intended to impose socialized medicine on America.
In brief, here's how to achieve an improved, and more affordable healthcare system:
1. Crack down on fraud and abuse. The amount of fraud in the Medicare system is estimated to cost $125-175 billion every year. Since the system operates as a kind of honor code, the government has been unsuccessful in detecting fraud and abuse. Meanwhile, private insurers such as the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association report its anti-fraud efforts resulted in a savings of $350 million last year, a 43% increase from 2007.
2. Develop a healthy workforce. Wellness programs pay real dividends for the companies that sponsor them.
3. Coordinate care through family doctors. A patient suffering from one or more chronic diseases may depend on several doctors and “rarely do they communicate with one another.” This results in waste, often due to duplication of treatments. By designating a primary care doctor to organize care with specialists, pharmacists, and physical therapists, sharing medical records electronically, it is estimated that $250 to $325 billion could be saved.
4. Make health a community effort. Campaigns to encourage people to eat better, get more exercise, and other options could greatly reduce health-related costs.
5. Stop infections in hospitals. Every year, 1.7 million patients develop infections while in hospital and 99,000 die as a result. They can be reduced if hospitals put more emphasis on solving the problem.
6. Get patients to take their medicine. Three out of four Americans do not take their medicine as directed. Noncompliance leads to more doctor visits, hospitalizations, and treatments that add an estimated $177 billion a year to the nation’s health-care bill.
7. Discuss options near the end of life. End of life care can be especially costly. When patients and the families are informed they can choose pain management, nursing care, and psychological support, all of which reduce costs.
8. Use insurance to manage chronic disease. In 2009, UnitedHealthcare introduced a Diabetes Health Plan that offers rewards to patients who manage their disease properly. The idea is to contain costs by giving patients financial incentives based on their particular health issues rather than a one-size-fits-all approach…something the proposed healthcare reform will impose on all Americans regardless of their particular health problems.
9. Let well-informed patients decide. Too many Americans think that drastic surgery and other procedures are the only way they can survive a healthcare crisis, but such procedures extend lives or prevent heart attacks in only a tiny minority of especially sick patients. Few really know this. Educating patients can reduce wasted health spending by up to 37%.
10. Apologize to the patient. When hospitals reveal mistakes to patients and their families, investigate the cause, and offer a settlement, it takes the lawyers out of the process. Honesty really is the best policy.
Instead, Congress is getting ready to impose a massive bureaucracy that will be put in charge of healthcare, increasing the nation’s deficit and debt as millions are added to the Medicare ranks and private insurance companies are driven out of business. The loss of freedom will be beyond calculation as Americans must deal with bureaucrats instead of their physicians and other healthcare professionals.
It is the worst possible “reform” imaginable. We’re running out of time to call our Senators, mostly Democrats, and demand they vote NO!