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!


Buzzg said...

If, on a national level, we were to follow the lead of Texas and several other states the so-called 'problem' would disappear.
Texas has promoted and encouraged interstate commerce in insurance even though there is a Federal law that permits states to prohibit it.
Texas has brought about massive tort reform which has led to drastic reductions in insurance premiums for doctors.
They have adopted other policies which in total have increased the numbers of doctors applying to practice in the state by some 50%, and many of these physicians are choosing to practice in lightly populated rural areas.
Several other states have followed the Texas lead and have seen similar results.
Leave us not forget that this 'health care monstrosity' of Mr. Reid's is not at all about health/medicine or care. Its primary goal is government intrusion and control of each and every citizens private life.
Just as 'cap and trade' is aimed at controlling the means of production, the health care proposals are equally aimed at control of the citizens of this country and relegating them to the status of subject.
The fact that the government cannot force us to purchase anything seems to have been lost in all the noise emanating from the beltway.
Nothing in the Constitution allows them to do what they are doing.
We have, by our own devices, created the monster that now seeks to destroy us.

Longstreet said...

I'll be writing my Senators, AGAIN, in the morning, demanding that they vote NO on ObamaCare/ReidCare. Great article, Alan!


commoncents said...

Great post! I really like your blog!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange??

Alan Caruba said...

Thank you, one and all. I emailed both my insanely liberal, Democrat Senators (I am from NJ) simply to have my views added to the stack of others.

I can hardly wait until Nov 2010 to vote most of these horrible people out of office.

Chuck Kuecker said...

I agree with most of your sentiments, but greatly fear that any law encouraging some of them would become a mandate for bureaucrats to control one's diet, exercise regimen, hobbies, and eventual criminal penalties for "drug evasion".

Let's leave personal choices to persons, not give any more power to government!

Tort reform is badly needed, but must be balanced with allowing lawsuits in cases of real malpractice. Perhaps making the losing attorney responsible for all the costs of the case? I have reservations about this, unless we could guarantee corruption-proof judges.

"Wellness" programs can morph into Big Brother watching your every nibble and monitoring your exercise program. How long before there are mandatory workouts and penalties for being a couch potato? Visions of Winston Smith doing jumping jacks...

Community awareness brings images of blockleiters peering through windows to ensure you are not drinking or smoking in the privacy of your home. Shades of Henry Ford in the 1920's!

Open competition in health insurance across state lines is a real good idea, and would have always been the case if not for CONgress kowtowing to special interests in the first place.

In my opinion, getting government out of the health care business altogether would be a very good first step towards reform. New laws of any kind usually make the problem worse and erode our freedoms. They rarely do anything positive for the American way of life.

Anonymous said...

Funny -- isn't #7 pretty much just a "death panel?"

Alan Caruba said...

No, #7 is not a death panel. Anyone who has had a loved one in the final stages of a terminal disease needs to know what medical options remain.

Anonymous said...

So, if #7 isn't a "death panel," neither were the "death panels" that the news was talking about a month or so ago.


Alan Caruba said...

You are an idiot...and blocked from further posting of comments on this blog.