Guest view: Government not the solution to healthcare issue
March 22, 2009
Kudos to Pat Fagen for admonishing this newspaper for its liberal bias against religion (letters, March 11). Now I’d like to take the Tribune to task for its barrage of columnists touting nationalized healthcare ” socialized medicine.
Most important of all, whatever happened to personal responsibility and self-determination? Yes, there are some people who require help with medical costs, and we can afford to help them. Contrary to liberal talking points, medical treatment is available to everyone, whether they can pay for it or not. Of the alleged 40 million people without health insurance, 20 million choose to pay cash for their medical treatment and save money, 10 million are illegal aliens who are not entitled to assistance, 5 million are temporarily without insurance while between jobs, leaving only 5 million uninsured. However, when a household has $1,000 HDTVs, iPods, full cable service, high-speed Internet, new cars, etc., why should taxpayers be responsible for providing their medical treatment? It’s no different than bailing out those who bought homes they couldn’t afford.
A large majority of medical professionals agree that the high cost of medical treatment is attributable to Medicare and state medical plan interference in the free-market system. When government sets the prices, and quite often for less than it costs to perform the services, the private sector pays a higher cost. So you want the government to control all of it?
There are many simple solutions to reducing costs and streamlining the industry that we should try first. A recent study shows, if Obama’s plan is enacted, 1.2 million jobs will be lost, the GDP would shrink by $250 billion, and 20 percent of doctors and nurses will leave the field. We spend $2 trillion a year on medical costs. Reforms, including the following ideas, can cut the annual costs by nearly half:
1) Exercise and lifestyle changes can reduce coronary artery disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, asthma and depression. Just a 10 percent reduction would save $150 billion.
2) Programs such asbestdoctors.com, can help eliminate misdiagnoses and wrong treatments ” $30 billion.
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3) Electronic medical records ” $80 billion.
4) Retail “minute” clinics in major drugstore chains, used for minor ailments ” $100 billion.
5) Incentives to encourage the return of primary care physicians ” $50 billion.
6) A requirement for binding arbitration could reduce medical malpractice insurance costs and eliminate many unnecessary tests and procedures ” $20 billion.
7) Improving the way Congress calculates Medicare payments, which influences what insurance companies pay doctors, would increase the number of doctors by 20 percent.
8) Medicare fraud and payment errors are estimated at $30 billion ” enough to fund a $3,000 refundable tax credit for 10 million uninsured.
Do we really want to destroy the best health care in the world to satisfy the liberal craving to control all aspects of our God-given rights? Aren’t we better off reforming the system and keeping life-and-death decisions in our own hands, with the advice of medical professionals, instead of government bureaucrats? If you believe government is not the solution, contact your congressman and senators, and tell them so.
” Janis Brand is a Round Hill resident.
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