(Thumbs Down) To members of the House of Representatives who voted for the so-called "Affordable Health Care for America Act" - which, in reality, isn't affordable. The House-passed health care reform measure is now in the Senate where cost-containment must be the focus.In response, he wrote the following on or about the day that the “Thumbs Down” was published (and here is more information on the cost of health care reform legislation that the Courier Times chose to ignore, of course)…
Voting in favor of the House bill were Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, and Montgomery County Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13.
Problem with the bill, which 39 party-bucking and reality-based Democrats refused to support, is that it does little to rein in the rising health care costs that pose a growing and potentially ruinous financial threat to middle class Americans and small businesses.
At first glance, the opposite appears to be true. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the measure would reduce federal deficits by more than $100 billion over a decade. But the House excluded $250 billion in estimated Medicare payments to health care providers over the same time span, the non-partisan CBO found.
The measure also doesn't address tort reform. In our view, reform that does not impose some sort of limits on malpractice suits would fail to address one of the chief culprits driving health care costs so high - defensive medicine.
We're not opposed to health care reform, just reform that won't reduce the back-breaking costs of health care. Let's hope the Senate will produce a measure worthy of being called reform.
Concerning the “Thumbs Down” segment of the Courier Times on November 13th, despite the paper’s reasoning, I’m at a loss to understand why those who voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act somehow earned the wrath of this newspaper.Well, editorial page editor Guy Petroziello called him yesterday about the Guest Opinion prior to publication (three-to-four-week delays for publication of Guest Opinions isn’t unusual, by the way).
For starters, the paper chides the lawmakers for approving the nearly $250 billion in estimated Medicare payments to health care providers over the coming decade. But according to Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, these aren’t "Obamacare costs." “The money,” Chait tells us, “would be spent whether health reform happens or not.”
Chait also tells us that “more than a decade ago, Congress tried to control Medicare costs by restricting payments to doctors. But the reimbursement cut has proven unpopular. So every year, Congress appropriates more money to fill the hole and keep the doctors happy.”
The paper also criticizes the lawmakers for not including “tort reform” in the health care legislation. However, Anne Underwood of the New York Times reported last August that “according to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.”
And in the matter of the cost of the House health care bill, the Courier Times doesn’t note the impact of the public option. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote, “the bill does include a ‘medium-strength’ public option, in which the public plan would negotiate payment rates — defying the predictions of pundits who have repeatedly declared any kind of public-option plan dead. It also includes more generous subsidies than expected, making it easier for lower-income families to afford coverage. And according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, almost everyone — 96 percent of legal residents too young to receive Medicare — would get health insurance.”
Also, I believe it’s telling that the paper apparently didn’t even consider the impact of the bill on those without insurance, which was addressed in a column by Rep. Patrick Murphy only days before the “Thumbs Down” column. To refresh our memories, Murphy told us about a woman who lost her coverage when she lost her job and was denied when she sought coverage on her own because of a “pre-existing condition” known as pregnancy.
We also learned of a man whose wife was denied coverage because she took blood pressure medication, and another man who lost his coverage when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. To me, the need to right these wrongs far outweighs the $250 billion cost that would be paid out to doctors anyway regardless of which party ran Congress.
Also concerning cost, the New York Times recently quoted Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He pointed out that health care spending in countries such as France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland actually slowed; they had higher incomes and higher costs, but more government involvement and, according to Anderson, “can control their costs better than we can.”
And as long as we’re talking about numbers, let’s look at the most catastrophic of all. According to a Harvard medical study from September of this year, “the lack of coverage can be tied to about 45,000 deaths a year in the United States — a toll that is greater than the number of people who die each year from kidney disease.”
Health care reform, including a strong public option, is a need our country has failed to address for nearly 70 years. This has occurred primarily as a result of fear mongering and misinformation sponsored by business interests, primarily insurance and pharmaceutical companies, conservative activists, and sympathetic media outlets. And I don’t believe that the cost we have paid in ruined lives, inefficient outcomes and decreased global competitiveness from ever-more-burdensome obligations to companies small and large is one that we will ever be able to calculate.
It truly is unsustainable, and we allow such madness to continue at our peril.
Petroziello criticized the fact that my friend dismissed the issue of the $250 billion reimbursement, and he also said he created a “straw man” argument on the matter of tort reform. Guy said that he emphasized “defense medicine” (multiple tests, redundant procedures, etc.) and my friend read into that to mean that Petroziello was talking about litigation costs instead.
Well, call me crazy, but when you hear the phrase “tort reform,” do YOU think of doctors ordering multiple “CYA” tests to insure themselves against a lawsuit? What I think of is the cost of a malpractice award.
So basically, the Guest Opinion isn’t going to be printed in its current form, unless my friend can rewrite it somehow to Petroziello’s liking, which he would do if somehow a day became 30 hours long, given all of the other holiday season stuff going on right now. But he really isn’t inclined to do that anyway because he thinks his point is valid, even if Petroziello doesn’t.
Of course, the paper has no problem printing wingnut nonsense about “death panels” or stuff about how Patrick Murphy supposedly isn’t a good Catholic because he supports choice, which, despite everything, is still the law of the land.
Memo to the Courier Times: one day your primarily wingnut audience will die out, and by then, it will be way too late to make a “left turn” in the hope of trying to keep yourselves financially above water. And you will only have yourselves to blame.