June 14, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Health Care Reform as the Key to Our Fiscal Future'

The President has long noted that skyrocketing health care costs will be disastrous in terms of our long term national debt unless we pass real reform. In this Weekly Address, the President also explains how he will cover the upfront costs of reform by eliminating overpayments from Medicaid and Medicare and driving down costs contributing to government’s health care expenditures across the board.

I agree that health care reform is critical for our nation. I'm a self-employed entrepreneur operating without health insurance. I wonder how many others that read this blog are living without health insurance? What is your take on the health care reform issue?


Mitch said...

I have two takes on this.

One, he's basically just killed my business as an independent health care consultant. Hospitals were hesitant to hire consultants to begin with, wondering what was going to happen with Medicare and Medicaid money, and now that he's said he's cutting $313 billion from those programs, but wants $600 billion overall, I'm pretty much done.

Two, one of his folks afterwards said hospitals were to blame for waste and excess, and that with the monetary cuts they, and physicians, would make it up later on with more people coming to them. Not gonna happen one; two, there may be some bad hospitals, but more than 65% of them lost money last year, more will lose money this year, and the government is reducing reimbursements? Why have a health care plan when hospitals are going to start closing like banks did and physicians are going to give up medicine and go into internet marketing?

This one's over the top.

Villager said...

Mitch - I'm sorry to hear that your business is impacted. However, I think that we truly need to make some radical changes with the health care system.

Sen. Dodd indicates that 1/3 of the current tests conducted by doctors (hospitals?) are unneccessary. Do you agree?

Mitch said...

I agree and disagree. Back in the 90's, doctors were being accused of not properly giving health care because they weren't doing enough tests to confirm diagnoses. Lots of malpractice suits came about. So, they started doing more to get true confirmation. What happens is someone gets sick, something bad happens, and suddenly it's a lawsuit because some lawyer says "why didn't you do 'this' or 'that'. So, the system made doctors become this way. And, of course, most doctors send those people to the hospital for the tests.

See, the problem is that the government sees one thing and goes after that one thing religiously, without thinking about other consequences or other things that possibly should be done. I've been saying for years that there needs to be a cap on malpractice suits of some kind, which might lower malpractice insurance and bring more doctors into fields where we have a drastic shortage, like OB doctors. There are some bad doctors out there, just like there are some hospitals doing some illegal stuff, but it's not the majority.

Villager said...

Mitch - I hope that other villagers join in this discussion. I hear you about tort reform. I disagree with the idea of caps on lawsuits. Often, it is only though lawsuits that you get the attention of this mega-corporations (e.g., 'The Rainmaker' movie).

I don't think that the problem is the government. I think that the problem is the greed of doctors and hospitals. Perhaps they should focus on wellness and healing and less on covering their butts.

Mitch said...

There is no hospital greed; more than 80% of hospitals lost money last year. Where's the greed? Most doctors make good money, but it's lost in malpractice insurance and paying for staff.

This is my industry; I'm sorry to say, but your belief in this idea is incorrect. Don't believe me; ask your own doctor this question the next time you see him and see if he believes he's making too much money. Would you rather your doctor get it right, or do less and guess what's wrong with you?

Over the last couple of weeks I've been hearing about people locally who have gotten real sick; one passed away on Saturday. His wife is already lining up the lawsuit saying the doctors didn't do enough to diagnose him and save his life. Whether she wins or they win, it's going to cost millions of dollars. There's your costs right there.

Villager said...

Mitch - I should take advantage of having someone with expertise willing to share his village voice with us.

If you accept that do nothing is not a good policy decision when it comes to the health care system in America ... what are the top 2-3 things you would do if you were in the Obama administration?

Mitch said...

Good question. Off the top of my head:

1. Offer tax breaks to smaller businesses so they can provide health care coverage for their employees, or help fund them in some fashion.

2. Invest more money into FQHC's (federally qualified health centers), which already know how to manage Medicaid dollars, and encourage people with little to no health care to visit them for preventative and minor coverage issues

3. Take a look at communities around the country that provide services for high priced procedures to see if there's duplication, triplication, or more. If so, select one facility as the one allowed to provide it. This really is one area where there's lots of waste and lots of costs. Give physicians privileges at more than one hospital for these services and those hospitals can then take the time to get proficient at providing them, insurance companies only have to negotiate with one provider and therefore can pay a bit more, and that will end up saving money also.

That's just to start with. :-)

Villager said...

Mitch - I understand that the Kennedy-Dodd plan is scheduled to be released this week. It will be interesting to see if your 3 ideas are included. Thank you for taking time to share your expertise and opinions.

I hope that others join this discussion.