Lessons Learned From the Health Care Summit

Health Care Costs Are Too High

Sen. Coburn:  “Cost is the number one thing that’s keeping people from getting care.  We should go to those areas where the cost is wasted, with a patient-centered, market-oriented approach.  Just on fraud and tort reform, we could cut costs by 15 percent tomorrow, and that’s for everybody in the country.”

Rep. (Dr.) Boustany:  “We need to simplify, streamline, and standardize all the paperwork that’s involved because … it you away from patient care. It interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. It runs up cost in medical practices.

Doctors are Performing Bad Medicine

Senator (Dr.) Coburn:  “… actually performing bad medicine…  We get stuck in the idea of treating the symptom rather than treating the disease.  One out of every three dollars that gets spent doesn’t help anybody get well and doesn’t prevent anybody from getting sick.  33 percent of the cost in health care shouldn’t be there…  We don’t do a good job of prevention.”

Government Intervention is Driving up Costs

Sen. Coburn:  “The government now directs over 60 percent of the health care in this country.  And if throwing money at it and creating new government programs could solve it, we wouldn’t be sitting here today because we’ve done all that, it hasn’t worked.”

We Need to Reduce the Fraud

Sen. Coburn:  “15 to 20 percent of government-run health care is fraud ($150B).  If we fixed fraud, we could cut (total) health care costs by 7.5 percent.”

Congressman Andrews:  “We should have a database–if you’ve committed fraud against Medicare once, you can’t make a contract again.”

Sen. Schumer:  “How many times, when you look at your medical bill, you’ve undergone a minor procedure, and you see Dr. Smith, $4,000, and you sort of vaguely remember he just waved and poked his head in the door?”

“Right now there’s some salesman talking to some doctor and saying, hey, my company will finance a machine for you for a million dollars, so you don’t have to pay for it, you can gradually pay it. We’ll show you how to fill it up all the time and you’ll increase your income by $200,000. And there’s another machine three blocks away that’s already working and available.”

We Need Tort Reform

Sen. Coburn:  “A large portion of the tests we order every day aren’t for patients, they’re for doctors.  The reason they’re there is because we are risk-averse to the tort system and extortion system.  Between $625 billion and $850 billion a year of health care dollars are wasted.”

We Need to Be Better Consumers of Health Care

Sen. Barrasso:  “Sometimes the people with catastrophic plans are the people that are the best consumers of health care.  A lot of people come in and say, “My knee hurts.  Maybe I should get an MRI.  Will my insurance cover it?”  That’s the first question.  And if I say, “Yes,” then they say, “Okay, let’s do it.”  If I say, “No,” then they say, “Well, what is it going to cost?”  And what it costs ought to be the first question.  And that’s why sometimes people with catastrophic health plans ask the best questions, shop around, and are the best consumers of health care.”

Half of all the money we spend in this country on health care is on just 5 percent of the people. Those are people, for the most part, that eat too much, exercise too little, and smoke. And as a result, we need to focus on those people. So the focus ought to be on the best possible care.
People are happy with the quality of care they get, the availability, but they sure don’t like the affordability because it’s not affordable.

This Bill is Not Equitable (Transparency)

Sen. McCAIN:  “This product was produced behind closed doors with unsavory deal-making: the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ fining them $300 million for one state; the ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ which has, I understand now, been done away with… the carveout for 800,000 Florida seniors exempt from cuts in Medicare Advantage program. There’s 330,000 seniors under Medicare Advantage in my home state of Arizona. They’re deeply concerned about that. They’re deeply concerned about the carveouts for Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Michigan, and Connecticut.”

Sen. Kyl:  “You don’t help small businesses by raising the Medicare payroll tax on them, which is what this legislation does. Besides that, it’s a job killer. ”

This bill raises taxes on the middle class.  Currently, medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of one’s adjusted gross income, and this bill raises that to 10%.  Of all things, 100% of medical expenses should be deductible–even before a mortgage, charitable giving, etc.

Insurance Companies Aren’t the Main Problem

Sen. Alexander:  “If we took all the profits of the health insurance companies entirely away, we could pay for only two days of the health insurance of Americans.”

Summary

– We need to lower health care costs, through reduction of fraud, tort reform, choice and competition in the free market, purchasing insurance across state lines, and using (high) risk pools to deal with preexisting conditions.

– We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the President’s health care summit suddenly added transparency to this issue.  As Rep. said, “Never have so many members of the House and Senate behaved so well for so long before so many television cameras.”

– We need to hold our politicians accountable.  The President told Sen. McCain that “we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”  Sen. McCain should have replied, “Yes, but elections don’t release politicians from the promises that they made during their campaigns.

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1 Response to Lessons Learned From the Health Care Summit

  1. Allen says:

    Let’s go to the polls and vote in Sen. and Rep. that will do the right thing for the people of the United States. People with good character, not people who are there for what they can get, that represent special intrest groups. Support the ones on the side of the people and vote out the ones that are not.

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