Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 6:19 pm | A Few Clouds 56º


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.
Santa Barbara

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