Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Reform

I've been in some pretty vigorous debates on health reform over the past year. I've been surprised at the anger and downright misinformation displayed by some of my friends who sit on the far right. During one exchange I was shocked by comments from a friend who is quite religious and who basically said there is nothing in the bible that says she has to pay for the health care of those who won't pay for themselves. Another friend told me she couldn't believe the government would try to penalize people who worked hard their whole life and now wanted to have cosmetic surgery (this was when a tax was proposed on cosmetic surgery).
The whole thing has turned sour. I am a big fan of T.R. Reid and his research on health care around the world. He presents a fair and unbiased view on the shortcomings of our system and just the economic sense covering all citizens makes. I am not a fan of a single payer system, but I am a fan of universal coverage done in a private/public combination.
Today, on one of my professional lists, members were cheering for the 13 republican attorney generals who filed a lawsuit saying the reform bill is unconstitutional. I was appalled and this is what I wrote them back:
I’ve worked on health reform for the past two years, serving on a national committee and being lucky enough to meet with senate finance committee staffers on the hill. In the end, last week our association actually opposed this bill. It is an economic fact that our current system, which is socialized, subsidized, private, and commercial is killing our economy. It is fact that of all the richest industrialized nations on the planet we are the only one who does not, whether private, public or a combo, cover all its citizens. Taking personal beliefs aside, it just makes economic sense to cover them up front instead of the rest of us covering them afterwards while bankrupting them and providers in the process.
Our association didn’t oppose this bill because we were against it as much as because it didn’t go far enough. Our position is meaningful reform must do the following:
• Fix the Medicare physician payment system (not done in this bill)
• Simplify administrative transactions (decent start to this)
• Enact meaningful medical liability reform (not done in this bill)
• Expand coverage (excellent start to this)
• Improve quality and safety (could be good, could be misguided)
• Promote the adoption of health information technology (good start but need to fix the meaningful use definition)
While the legislation contains valuable provisions related to issues such as administrative simplification, it is hard to envision the successful transformation of our healthcare system without permanent repeal of the SGR. Additionally, establishing an independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will exacerbate the SGR crisis by placing physicians in double jeopardy of additional reimbursement cuts.
So it was due to shortcomings, not because we feel big government is going to take over healthcare that we opposed the bill. I find it extremely damning of the republican partys to choose to litigate in this manner rather than using the other avenues to add the additional fixes needed…especially in areas like tort reform and the SGR. To throw all their eggs into the basket of “no” and to portray this as an evil imposed on the people is disingenuous at best. Both parties have their problems but I am very disappointed in the aggressive, negative, and downright slanderous approach taken in the past 72 hours by members of the grand old party, including the party chair. And if those nutjobs who showed up to protest and shouted racial and other hateful slurs at our elected officials represent the GOP, I want nothing to do with them or the party.
This and the other lawsuits soon to come are a disgrace in my opinion.

It's how I feel.
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