Letter to the Editor: We Don’t Dare Trust Government to Deliver Quality Health Care
There is a huge debate about health care going on today. Should we turn over the only part of American medicine not already controlled by the government to the same people who created “Cash for Clunkers?”
Our legislators are home from Washington for the August holiday, and need to hear our views. The American heath-care system is the envy of the world. People form other nations come here when they can’t get the care they need at home. Most Americans could list some things about the current system they would like changed, but I don’t believe that most of us want government-run health care. I certainly don’t.
I have practiced medicine in Santa Barbara for 30 years. A high point was being voted the 2009 Santa Barbara News-Press Readers Choice favorite family physician. I deal with government medicine every day, through Medicare and Medicaid. There is not enough space in a short editorial to list all the exasperating problems with these two programs. More and more Santa Barbara physicians are opting out of both of them.
The government, in my opinion, creates more problems than it solves. For example, any hospital that accepts Medicare funding has to accept and care for any one who shows up in the Emergency Department, regardless of their ability to pay, or whether they pay taxes. This is a government mandate. It may sound compassionate, however, it leads to unintended consequences. My insurance agent will explain to me tomorrow why Blue Cross is going to raise, once again, the already high premium on my PPO. For hospitals to pay for all this free care, they negotiate higher rates with the health plans, ie. Blue Cross. The PPOs and HMOs turn around and raise the rates for those of us who buy our own insurance. This cost shifting is a huge factor in the escalating cost of medicine. These plans are being written by legislators who are mostly lawyers, who receive large contributions from the legal lobby. Do you really expect this group to fix the medical malpractice problem that leads to expensive defensive medicine?
Health plans caring for seniors in Los Angeles and Ventura receive significantly higher rates from Medicare than they do for residents of Santa Barbara. This makes no sense. Local doctors have been flying to Washington for more than a decade trying to have this inequity fixed, to no avail. Does it cost less for doctors to care for people in our county? Problems like this one, with Washington bureaucrats nodding that they understand the problem, then not correcting it, will multiply under a single-payer government health plan. I don’t believe that the plans being promoted in Washington have any goal other than ultimately creating a single-payer system. President Barack Obama has said so repeatedly in the years leading up to his presidency. He and Congress have borrowed an amount of money that is incomprehensible and alarming. Our grandchildren won’t be able to pay it back, even if the Chinese foolishly lend it to us.
The government has recently taken over the auto industry, the banking industry, and again has medicine in its sights. I don’t believe the country can afford the costs of national health care without strict rationing. This rationing is why people who can afford it come here from Canada and Britain — where there are long lines of people waiting even to see a primary-care national health system doctor. National health care will unavoidably lead to some committee in Washington deciding what cutoff age they will apply for joint replacements, chemotherapy, coronary angioplasties, hemodialysis, etc. Without rationing, the system would go bankrupt almost immediately.
If you want to trust your health-care decisions to the same people who created and perpetuated the subprime mortgage debacle, then do nothing. It will happen. If you object, join me in vocally telling your representatives that this is exactly what you don’t want. I don’t think they believe there are many of us who feel this way. Let’s let them know, now.
Paul S. Aijian M.D.
on 08.06.09 @ 02:50 PM
Just a few responses:
1. I already wait to see my primary care Physician.
2. My Insurance company already rations care.
3. The problem with Medicare is that the payments to providers need to increase. That doesn’t make the system bad. Medicare also has a long history of operating with an Administrative overhead of only between 3-4%. Private Insurance operates with a 30-31% overhead which is spent on advertising, staffs of people whose job it is to deny care, bloated executive salaries, private jets and lobbyist who are currently receiving $1.4million per day to defeat reform and keep the gravy train rolling.
That money is all coming out of our pockets
If the government had really taken over the banks, as the author claims, our credit card rates would have gone down and banks would actively be refinancing mortgages. Rather we have had a bank takeover of us.
If the government had taken over the banks, we’d be building smaller energy efficient cars that ran on alternative fuels and some factories would be being retooled to build for light rail.
The people who created the subprime mortgage crisis are the same sort of unregulated corporate executives that are now running the Insurance companies.
on 08.06.09 @ 04:38 PM
Dear Sweet Maggie,
The government you say is so good at doing everything it does is $11.2 trillion in debt and that does not include the $3 trillion they just spent in the last year. So, please, explain to me why this is good? Name one product that you need that the government produces without a cost overrun? The admin overhead you quote has been floating around for a while now and is the darling of the “public option” promoters. Unfortunately, it is false. No, no you can find that 4% but you have to cull out all kinds of admin and overhead that is relevant to make it work. The real over head number is closer to 74%. Yes I know that is shocking but it is true and about half of that is due to fraud (sorry folks, but if you’re in business and someone steals from you, that’s and overhead cost). Another portion of that overhead that is consistently left out is the huge mark up in cost due to legal issues (we call that the CYA factor) and is a large portion of the private insurance companies overhead.
It boils down to this, Ms. Wall; the government is not going to protect you. They are the enemy. They get worse when you let them have more power and more of your income to do what they want. It is not that individuals in public service are bad folks; it is the nature of the size of the institution. That’s why large corporations, governments, militaries, religions or any other institutionalized organization cannot be trusted. Large businesses have governments to rein them in and so do militaries, but who reins in the government? Just like you church, the answer is you. You have the power to curb government’s power by limiting what they can do. If you choose to acquiesce to a larger government, it will consume you. That is what we are fighting here. Not healthcare, but large abusive government. Let the government regulate the insurance companies, that’s their job. But for God’s sake and yours as well don’t let them DO insurance.
on 08.07.09 @ 09:27 AM
Has anyone heard when or where Lois Capps has scheduled her town hall meeting on the health care bill?
on 08.07.09 @ 11:35 AM
Sorry, but what we’re fighting here is large unfettered, unregulated Corporate Power.
on 08.10.09 @ 09:45 AM
Dear I appreciate your explanation, and I do not want any PPO premius to go up either, but as you mention, you already have insurance and have problems with it. I don’t!
For 40 to 50 millions Americans the problem is that they cannot have insurance. Not long ago, I lost my full time job and my insurance, I thought—foolishly—“I will buy it on my own”. Well, since I take a couple of medicines a day, they did not even let me apply for it.
I have a teenage daughter, they let me apply for her, but she was disqualify because a year or so ago, she took a prescription medicine—who knows what for—her insurance was offered however, at the cost of 500.00 a month and a huge deductible. We cannot afford it!
She is going to the university and is an excellent student, but her traveling abroad is jeopardized by the fact that she does not have insurance.
I need medecine for a condition I was born with, I am 50 years old and I do not go to the doctor because I cannot pay for the exams. Trust me on this, I do not want to end up on the ER, at least it is not my plan.
I am a professional, American citizen, who is being directly affected by the latest economic situation in our State and our Country.
I am playing by the rules, I am doing the best I can to live my life and to help others, but I need health insurance and I cannot get it on my own—I am not rich enough to buy it, I am not poor enough to get it from the goverment.
Everyone is concernd about their own experience, can we please think about the ones who cannot even fancy to tell theirs?
on 08.10.09 @ 09:47 AM
We understand that Maggie, what we are trying to get people like you to realize is that the government has way more power that is unfettered and they have the police, military and the judiciary to back them up. Do you really want your heath care determined by such an institution? Socialism and fascism always seem so nice when you look at the benefit side of the score sheet. We never look at the risk side until they start marching people off to the gulag or gas chambers. We in America seldom think of the risks involved with giving our government more power. We often believe our government to be rather benign. Yet the y same people who chided the Bush administration for trampling our constitutional rights (rightly or wrongly) now sing the praises of unfettered government control over your health. Sorry, but no government on earth throughout all human history has ever proven itself that benign, not even our own. You are simply giving away to much of your freedom and too much of your responsibility as a citizen for an insurance product. We need to improve the system we have now, not turn it over to a government that is proven incompetent at handling the job and certainly have a worse track record for power abuse than any corporation ever has. Think about that for a while Maggie. Once you go down this road, you go down a road well worn in history by all the other failed civilizations. Problem is it’s a road where turning back is next to impossible.
on 08.16.09 @ 06:36 AM
My wife and I are both senior citizens. We have 5 children and 6 grandchildren residing in 6 different families, all living in the United States. Not one of the families is considered wealthy, all work and some are self employed. Some have medical problems but most are in average health. Not one of the entire group has problems with the health care provider they have chosen and pay for. Of all my friends a problem with the health care is rare. Do we really need government in our health care?
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