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Foxes in the hen house


Fri, May 22nd, 2009
Posted in Commentary



The foxes are not just in the hen house they want to build the next hen house complete with an easily breached fence. The American Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Society, PHARMA and other healthcare organizations that have prospered in and, often, because of our dysfunctional healthcare mess have told Obama they are on board healthcare reform. They have promised to reduce the increase in healthcare costs by 1.5% per year.

Sounds great doesn't it? Did you notice this is not a reduction in cost but a reduction in the increase in cost? The consensus for the foreseeable future for healthcare cost increases if 6.2% so this would bring it down to 4.7% which is still above the average increase in the cost of living.

Note also I haven't listed how this is going to be done. That's because these guys haven't told anyone how they plan to do it. It's a safe bet each one of them plan on the other guys giving up income, not them personally.

Also, Harry and Louise are not dead yet. You remember H&L. They are the ones in the TV ads that sabotaged Clinton's healthcare reform with "socialized medicine and rationing". The guys in paragraph one paid for those.

The front guy for H&L now is Richard Lynn (Rick) Scott the CEO of Columbia/HCA healthcare at the time it was indicted for fraud in Medicare and Medicaid billing. He was never indicted but thrown out as CEO by the board. Columbia/HCA ended up paying a total of 1.7 billion in federal/state fines and other civil law suits. Prior to this he was a partner of G. W. Bush as part owner of the Texas Rangers. Since his ouster he has reentered healthcare by buying up clinics and investing in pharmaceuticals. He continues to profit from our dysfunctional "system".

Everyone with an ounce of common sense, a modicum of empathy for good people who fall ill or are injured, or know that a true civilized nation should look out for the least fortunate understand healthcare cannot be looked at the same as market staples of food and shelter. A large majority now support healthcare reform. The fact these groups noted in paragraph one have decided to come to the table and behave as if they are interested in reform indicates even they don't believe huge amounts of money will turn the tide this time. My problem is I smell a Trojan horse here. Worse, the politicians, at least in part may be complicit in the plot.

Consider the following:

1. Despite protestations that everything was on the table both Democratic and Republican congressmen have removed one party payment systems out of the equation.

2. Most consultations with "stakeholders" (the public being the most numerous group of stakeholders) has been done behind closed doors, excluding the public from the discussions.

3. We saw what ensued after the last administration had such discussions behind closed doors with the oil, coal, electrical generating corporations with energy policy. No policy change is what happened.

4. This administration reacted to the industries minimal offer of cooperation as if this solved all the problems. Gullible?

5. The single thing, besides one party payment system,, that might keep the insurance and medical complexes honest and toeing the line, a public insurance system run by an entity that is not concerned with profit is, explicitly, the one deal breaker.

6. Obama has decided to allow Congress to write any reform bill, an act of political expediency. If he has given any advice as to limits and conditions he will require or will not tolerate I cannot find them. Another measure of secrecy we should not allow.

Any way we control costs has to recognize a dollar saved means a dollar lost tao someone in the medical-industrial complex and will be resisted. The most effective way is to have a Medicare for all program that dictates payments. This means physicians incomes of 8 to 10 times the average working mans' income will have to drop to 2 to 4 times the average working mans' income, as in the rest of the advanced nations. Health insurance companies will be limited to insuring people for the frills rather than basic medical care (private rooms, elective cosmetic surgery, botox, etc.). For profit hospital corporations (Humana, Columbia HC) will not be able to give million dollar bonuses or golden parachutes to executives. So far it's not going to happen with this bunch of politicians.

We will know if this is going to be smoke and mirrors along with creative bookkeeping if there is no public run insurance plan open to all who do not wish to trust the same people who are at least partly responsible for the mess this is now. We cannot allow either congressmen or women who are beholden to the insurance monster or congress men or women who ideologically have a government can do nothing right or efficiently delusion to hold reform hostage. For those whose vote was a vote for healthcare reform no public insurance is an act of betrayal.

Dr. Robert Sauer of Preston is a retired family physician. He can be reached at news@fillmorecountyjournal.com

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