After spending years studying the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and related health care reform proposals, I am on a journey to explore the other side. While I've made a point over the years to read the health care reform opinions of Obamacare opponents, I never took seriously their prescriptions. But with the dreaded feeling that the country is on the path to indefinitely postpone the next level of health care reform, I decided to read and reread the writings of those who think our most recent health care reform efforts were a big mistake.
So this past weekend I read a lot of Michael Cannon articles and blogs. Cannon is the Director of Health Policy Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute and an avowed Obamacare hater. Cannon is famous for his many attempts to sabotage the Obamacare law in its early stages by mounting a legal challenge of the subsidies provided to federal exchange enrollees. He also encouraged states not to create their own exchanges (this approach went hand-in-hand with his legal challenge as to whether the federal government could provide subsidies to non-state exchange enrollees). Of course Cannon does not view his fight against Obamacare as sabotage, and although I think it clearly was, I am setting this aside for now.
Today, I'm more interested in understanding the health care reform viewpoint of single payer and universal health care opponents. But not just any opponent, more specifically, I am interested in comprehending the beliefs of the policy wonks, the die hard free market crusaders that oppose government playing any role in providing or paying for health insurance and health care. Consequently, I am reading the works of Michael Cannon and Ron Paul. Free market conservatives draw many negative conclusions about universal health care, including: Continue Reading...
Two days before the U.S. presidential inauguration, Senator Bernie Sanders asked Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee, Tom Price, "do you believe that health care is a right of all Americans, whether they are rich or they're poor." Like any worthy opponent, Price would not give a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, he said, "I look forward to working with you to make certain that every single American has access to the highest quality care that is possible.” Here's how I interpret Price's cold reply:
Americans that can afford to pay for the highest quality health care shall have access to it. Americans that cannot afford the highest quality care shall have access to the level of care what little money they have can provide. A doctor is advocating for levels of care based on ability to pay. Shocker. But not all doctors are like Tom.
Tom Price has an estimated net worth of over $13 million. His HHS nomination hearing is as much about corruption as it is about policy. There are allegations that he purchased health care stocks based on insider information and introduced legislation favorable to a company whose stock he owned. Price claims his stock purchases were legal, and that may be true, but his lack of propriety in making these purchases and their timing, is unsettling but not surprising.
Price's careers as a doctor, State Senator and U.S. Congressman have a common theme—oppose any and all legislation that threatens the paychecks of doctors. He opposed single payer health insurance long before Obamacare when he mobilized other doctors to lobby against Hillarycare. And he has a history of trying to limit, sometimes drastically, the amount patients can receive in malpractice lawsuits. With so much time and effort devoted to pursuing and sustaining wealth for doctors, the confirmation hearing may be uncomfortable, but Tom's been doing this for a long time, and he has an answer for everything.
Tom Wants A Health Care System Made Up Of Individuals
As an entrepreneur with a medical degree whose main purpose in life is to stay rich, we can expect Tom Price to oppose legislation to limit what doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical and medical device companies can charge for their services and products. For Tom, health care is a commodity, not a right of all Americans. Other things not to get your hopes up about with a Price-led HHS department:
- meaningful health care price transparency
- limits on out-of-pocket health care cost for patients
- the prohibition against balance billing
What Do Medical Device Giant, Medtronic, Inc., And A Canadian Teenager Have In Common? A Low-Cost Dialysis Device
When we talk about out of control health care costs, we rarely go beyond discussing insurance premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays for medical services and prescription drugs. We almost never talk about the high cost machinery medical professionals use everyday to treat medical conditions and whether they can be replaced with low cost alternatives. In fact, we often brag about having the latest, most expensive medical technology in the world.
I admit I never thought about the cost of medical equipment until after reading a recent article about a Canadian teenager, Anya Pogharian, who invented a low-cost portable dialysis machine. What started out as a school science project is now receiving international attention as a possible alternative to traditional high-cost, facility-based dialysis treatment.
The young inventor was moved to create the device after volunteering at a hospital dialysis facility. She envisioned an alternative to having dialysis patients visit the hospital several times a week to receive treatment lasting up to four (4) hours. She was also concerned about the high cost of traditional machines that make them out of reach to dialysis patients in poorer countries, like India. As part of an internship in a professional lab, she will have an opportunity to test her machine on real blood. The cost to build her machine was approximately $500 dollars.
Reading this news made we want to find out if a similar device was being contemplated by an American company or individual. The good news is that it is. One of the world’s most profitable and successful medical device makers, Medtronic, Inc., is working to create a portable dialysis device. However, this device is not for the U.S. market, but for India. Medtronic is partnering with Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd in India in making the device.
The article on Anya’s invention also made me realize that these are the kind of inventions we will have to make if we are ever to have affordable universal health care in America. Now, but especially with universal health care, we need to invest in reducing the cost of medical care by lowering the cost of medical equipment. We also need to look at reducing medical care cost by treating and monitoring patients at home, when possible, versus paying expensive hospital and medical facility fees. Not to mention avoiding the health risks hospitals pose that result in more harm and greater cost… Continue Reading...