Saturday, March 27, 2010


Unencumbered by any research or expertise, I offer a few thoughts on reform of our health care system. The landmark law just enacted does many good things but is mainly health insurance reform that does little to control the high cost of U.S health care.

To address costs, perhaps a place to start would be with education of doctors and other medical personnel. Don't know how but if we can curb the inflation in educational costs there will be less pressure on graduates to command high incomes.

All providers, including government, must negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices. And re-importation of drugs should be allowed.

Health insurers, hospitals and other large providers should be regulated like utilities. Limiting the percentage of premiums that can be used for expenses other than health care and preventing the duplication of facilities and costly medical equipment are two avenues to pursue.

We should be encouraging, perhaps subsidizing clinics and other institutions that provide efficient, effective care. Typically, these employ physicians on salary and use best practices to ensure highest quality at lowest cost. Some may provide medical services to members who pay an annual fee. We should replicate the model clinics over as much of the country as possible.

Provisions in the new law encourage an increase in primary care and efficient team practice with bonus payments for certain physicians and expansion of community health centers. A step in the right direction.

VA hospitals. Although others may differ, I understand that the VA provides very good care at relatively low cost. This could well be an available option. (To avoid overloading, some limitation may be needed- such as availability only to those living within 100 miles of a VA hospital).

At all times, those who have insurance or other approved coverage can go to whatever private care that is available, paying with own funds.

Give our people a number of choices: private insurance, VA, approved clinic membership, or Medicare for all. In the case of the VA and Medicare, we must be sure that the fees are high enough to ensure sustainability.

With the new law, we have finally recognized that our country deems health care a right for all. We'll have to continue to explore the best ways to bring our country to the top level of countries providing health care for their citizens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Some of the News
That may be True


Roger Andrews, president of the influential think tank American Values Institute, announced yesterday that it had hired new Senator Scott Brown as a part time analyst and commentator.
The Senator will have an office at the Institute and access to its extensive research team.

Andrews conceded that this was a departure from the Institute's policy of separation from political officeholders. However, the Institutes Board was so impressed by Brown's body of work and instant prominence that an exception was warranted.

Mr. Andrews closed the conference with the statement that the Institute was looking forward to a long and productive relationship with Senator Brown.

Monday, March 22, 2010


As soon as health care passes, the American people will see immediate benefits. The legislation will:

  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;

  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;

  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;

  • Lower seniors' prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;

  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;

  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;

  • Require plans to cover an enrollee's dependent children until age 26;

  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;

  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;

  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.


It passed! Great! This is an historical milestone but in some ways it is just a start.

Disappointments, that may be fixed in the future: While insuring 30 million, it leaves about 17 million uninsured.. It does little to address cost containment and contains a mandate without strong enough subsidies. Also, there needs to be a public option to make insurers compete for this mandated coverage. It does not help with drug prices by having Medicare negotiate or permitting importation.

At least the legislation eliminates the unwarranted giveaways to banks for student loans.


It passed! Great! Mr. Stupak came through in the end after grandstanding, gumming up the works, and getting his moments of fame. Did he really need to bolster his anti-abortion rights credentials?

At least the bill now does not have government intrude further into women's reproductive rights.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"House Democratic leaders late Friday were exploring the possibility of a deal with abortion opponents that would clinch the final votes to pass major health care legislation, but they faced stiff resistance from lawmakers who support abortion rights." NY Times

I'm not objective on this issue, since I have always been a strong supporter of choice. If I were not pro-choice, my seven daughters would have browbeatened me into that position.

To me, abortion is part of health care. I oppose government intrusion into private rights by trying to ban it or impose barriers . Since is a legal medical procedure, it should be equally entitled to government funding.

Putting those views aside, I find it unconscionable to inject this issue into a measure to reform our health care system. Whether Bart Stupak and others are grandstanding or being fanatic, they are hurting the cause unnecessarily since there is only a convoluted argument of a risk of a government subsidy of abortion in this legislation. If they want to confront such a subsidy, let them attack the tax deduction for employer plans, a huge benefit of millions of dollars.

Every day, Americans lose health benefits, suffer financial ruin, get sicker, or die because of inadequate health care. To throw a roadblock into reform is hardly a pro-life action.