Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Republicans offer no real alternative to the Affordable Care Act

The vast majority of Americans believe something should be done about the spiraling costs of health care in the United States.  The only real reform in medical care would be reforms which reduce the cost for citizens of this country.

Republicans continue to demand the repeal of Obamacare without offering any real reforms calculated to reduce the cost of medical care to Americans.  The first argument generally made by Republicans is completely phoney.  Republicans argue Obamacare somehow places government between the patient and their physician.  The real barrier between patients and their doctors are insurance companies–not the government.  Most health policies contain an approved list of doctors and those not approved.  If your doctor is not approved, tough.  You just have to go with the ones the insurance company picks for you.

The second most often offered “solution” is that insurance should be sold across the borders of the state.  The trouble with this proposal is there is no guarantee that insurance carriers in one area of the country would sell insurance much cheaper than others.  Additionally, some states have very strict requirements on insurance carriers to ensure they will not go broke, leaving patients holding the bag with worthless insurance.  Unless Congress is ready to have a new regulatory agency control the creation and running of insurance companies, this idea would simply create more questions than answers.

The third solution offered is an old favorite of most Republicans.  Blame it on lawyers! The claim is that, because they are afraid of being sued, doctors practice defensive medicine, calling for unnecessary tests just to make sure they don’t get sued for malpractice.  Texas is a good example of what happens when legislatures buy the argument that malpractice is driving the cost of medical care.  In Texas now, since the so-called reforms, it is difficult if not impossible to sue a doctor for malpractice.  Texas has as many hurdles to cross in filing a malpractice suit as any state in the nation.  Several studies done by independent groups, as in prestigious universities, have absolutely demonstrated that tort reform--as to medical malpractice in Texas--has not lowered costs to patients one penny.  It has, in fact, increased the profitsof insurance companies and done very little to lower the cost of malpracticeinsurance to doctors.  As an example, even though the maximum one can get for non-economic losses, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc. is $200,000, still malpractice carriers insist doctors carry a minimum of $400,000 to $500,000 before they will insure them.

Last but not least is the phony claim that no one, even the uninsured, suffer for lack of quality medical care. Rick Perry continues to insist that all Texans have great medical care available to them.  If you want to test this theory, report to an emergency room where you can get emergency care and tell them you need a hip transplant or continuing care for diabetes and see how far that will get you without cash or insurance.  The answer is nowhere. 

Unfortunately, health care in America is still controlled by for-profit, health care providers.  The Affordable Care Act is only a small step in the direction of controlling these costs, but we are left with little or no options by those who would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In the meantime, those of us who pay for medical care are carrying the burden of public hospitals and charity hospitals which do offer some modicum of health care to the needy.

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