San Diego – In an effort to quell fears of a government-run health care plan, President Obama addressed the American Medical Association who represents more than 800,000 of the nation’s doctors.
“The cost of health care is a threat to the economy… and is unsustainable for doctors,” the President Obama said during the speech. “If we don’t fix health care America may go the way of G.M.”
Those are strong words from the president. After listening to the president’s speech one doctor found many things to agree with. However, the deal breaker for him was the push for a government-run health care plan.
“We can definitely save money within the industry. For example, the government can do away with the $177 billion it spends on Medicare Advantage and save $75 billion with generic drugs like Canada does,” said Dr. Gary Gonsalves a doctor in the San Diego area.
“What we can’t give in on is the notion of a government-run health plan because I am convinced this is the first step to socialized medicine,” he said.
Gonsalves believes the way to reform the health care industry may be by regulating the insurance companies similar to the utility companies. “I don’t want the government to take all their profits, but they can set prices and encourage insurance companies to offer reasonable or lower-cost plans.”
Other tax advocacy groups point out the government is already running small scale “single-payer” systems. “These programs like the Veteran’s Administration are abject failures,” says Leslie Eastman of Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition LLC.
“We believe when government competes against business, government sets the rules and undercuts private enterprise. Ultimately, this results in a government monopoly,” Eastman said.
Another point that So Cal Tax Revolt Coalition makes is the free-market success of LASIK eye surgery and breast enhancements. “These complicated procedures have become more cost efficient, effective and prevalent in the past few years,” she said. “The main reason is because customers pay for them directly and need to shop around.”
Obama repeated his mantra that none of this can move forward without the medical profession turning to electronic record keeping and investing in preventative care.
Doctor Gonsalves agrees that the free-market is imperative in moving forward. Another sticky point is where the money for the estimated $1 to $2 trillion plan will come from.
The White House contends it’s already set aside a $635 billion ‘down payment’ in the budget and that this money will not add to the federal deficit. However, according to new White House estimates, the U.S. government is borrowing 50 cents on every dollar it spends. That equates to deficit spending.
Not exactly what the Obama administration promised in the speech to the AMA. He did acknowledge that taxing the “rich” to the tune of $300 billion could be on the table. This tax is similar to the one John McCain offered in his health care reform during the presidential elections.
McCain ran into steep criticism from the Democratic Party which now seems to embrace the health-care tax possibility. This tax would squarely land on the middle class as it would make health insurance deductions taxable. The Obama administration has said it doesn’t want to do that, yet the proposal remains on the table.
Senator Chris Dodd-D Conn said that, “Lawmakers should look at the $313 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid through the next 10 years.”
The president also proposed cuts in hospitalization costs. The White House Budget Director Peter M. Orszag said, “Payments to hospitals will be reduced to try and encourage them to work more productively and efficiently.”
What the president doesn’t take into account is in states saddled with millions of illegals, cutting care could put them out of business, according to Gonsalves. On this point the president also spoke about hospital readmission within 30 days.
“If the administration tries to go after this, hospitals will just have to keep patients longer in the first place adding to costs, not alleviating costs,” Gonsalves said.
Another contentious point was about ‘Tort’ reform. Doctors want the cost of their malpractice insurance lowered and “caps” put on lawsuits as a way to save on health care premiums, however, the President Obama, a lawyer himself, wouldn’t budge on that front.
Most people agree that some type of reform has to occur, but what and where need to be hammered out. Many doctors want reform, they just question the speed to which the president is trying to throw things together.
“I can say I agreed with a lot of what the president said today, but he won’t get any doctor support on any type of public government-run insurance,” Gonsalves continued.
For this reason, Gonsalves has started PEGASUSS, Physicians Encouraging Greater Accountability to Stop Unsustainable Socialized Solutions. “I hope to unite physicians to oppose national health care and promote free-market solutions.”
Explaining his motivation behind organizing such a group Gonsalves said, “As physicians we took an oath to relieve suffering and improve the quality of healthcare for our patients. Our ability to follow through on that promise is being seriously threatened by those in Washington who hope to nationalize healthcare by summer’s end.”
Most Americans just want the government to slow down and do it right.