Great Editorial on Health Care

Below is one of the best editorials on the state of health care in our country.  It was written by Dr. Tom Price, a member of Congress from Georgia.  I didn’t want to link it because I want to make sure this can be read for a long time.

Please read this and realize that while Obama’s plans sound good, we, as patients, will suffer.  We need health care to focus on doctors and patients, and not accountants, attorneys, and least of all bureaucrats.

Here it is:

The GOP Should Fight Health-Care Rationing

Obama’s HMO deserves principled opposition.

Perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of the past eight years was the chance for Republicans to fundamentally reform the terribly broken American health-care system. Access to quality health care has long been a professed priority, yet Republicans have been reluctant to tackle the issue.

As a physician, this is deeply disappointing to me because patient-centered health care is, at its core, conservative. Health care is fundamentally a personal relationship between patients and doctors. To honor this relationship — consistent with Republican ideals — our goal should be to provide a system that allows access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, in a way that ensures medical decisions are made in doctors’ offices, not Washington.

Republican unwillingness to address the issue, however, has left us facing an emboldened Democratic Party well equipped to push a government-centered health-care agenda. While Democrats are still dangerously misguided in their policies, this time they are prepared to avoid the political mistakes of the Clinton administration.

For a preview, look no further than “What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,” a book published this year by former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of Health and Human Services. Atop the list of worrisome ideas proposed by Mr. Daschle is the creation of an innocently termed “Federal Health Advisory Board.”

This board would offer recommendations to private insurers and create a single standard of care for all public programs, including which procedures doctors may perform, which drugs patients may take, and how many diagnostic machines hospitals really need. As with Medicare, for any care provided outside the board’s guidelines, patients and physicians would not be reimbursed.

Mr. Daschle is quick to note the board’s standards would serve only as a suggestion to the private market. Yet to ensure that there are no rogue private insurers, he has proposed making the employer tax deduction for providing health insurance dependent on compliance with the board’s standards. In an overtly political ruse, Democrats will claim they are dictating nothing to private providers, while whipping noncompliant insurers in place through the tax code.

To be sure, this strategy seeks to eliminate private providers completely. Forced into accepting rigid Washington rules and unsustainable financing mechanisms under Mr. Daschle’s plan, most private insurers would be quickly eradicated. Or, as Mr. Daschle soberly predicts in his book, “the health-care industry would have to reconsider its business plan.”

If we fail to recognize the scope and scale of Democratic ambition on this issue, we will find ourselves with a permanent Washington bureaucracy prescribing patient care. Our goal, however, must not be confined to defeating a Democratic proposal. Instead, we must advocate for a positive approach to health-care reform that does not sacrifice patient care to achieve its goals. This patient-centered approach must be built upon two pillars: access to coverage for all Americans and coverage that is truly owned by patients.

First, we must fundamentally reform the tax code so that it makes sense for all people to have health insurance. This may be readily accomplished through the adoption of tax equity for the purchase of insurance, active pooling mechanisms for increased purchasing power, and focused use of tax deductions and credits. Through positive changes in the tax code we can make health-care cost effective and create incentives so there is no reason to be uninsured. This way, care is purchased without government interference between you and your doctor.

Secondly, we must transform our health-care model to one that is owned and controlled by patients. Currently, most Americans receive coverage through a third party, leaving health-care decisions to an employer or the government. By creating a new system in which Americans are provided the opportunity to purchase whichever health-coverage product fits their personal needs, insurers would be forced to focus on patients. Not until patients truly own their own health plans will we see the accountability and flexibility needed to ensure quality care and necessary cost-lowering efficiencies.

A historic debate about American health care is fast approaching. We are not doomed to a Washington-run bureaucratic health-care system, so long as Republicans push for the right remedy for health care and return to being the party of solutions.

Dr. Price, a Republican member of Congress from Georgia, is the new chairman of the Republican Study Committee.


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