Vice-Chair Dr. Mark Edney's Opinion on Healthcare
Central Committee Vice-Chair Dr. Mark Edney recently wrote an opinion piece in the Daily Times on Healthcare.
The only bipartisan activity in Washington right now is hand wringing over health care.
The Republican-controlled Senate has demonstrated itself incompetent to the task of repealing/replacing/improving upon a piece of Democrat incompetence: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, aka Obamacare.
My message to Democrats:
Americans will never accept a single-payer, government-controlled system of health care delivery. Government bureaucracies are designed to deliver reliable process. Not outcomes. Americans care about health care outcomes.
Big, unwieldy government bureaucracies universally suffer from mission creep; expanding government programs is a lazy but effective source of Democrat votes.
Federal health care programs are also riddled with fraud and abuse. Medicare and Medicaid lose tens of billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars every year because they are too easily fleeced.
Safety nets are a critical part of our social contract with each other, but they work better when designed with elements of achievable personal responsibility (see President Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996).
My message to Republicans:
We need to improve the health care safety net in a way that supports our society’s most needy.
Coverage of pre-existing conditions is here to stay – as it should be.
Lifetime caps and contract cancellations need to stay gone.
Keep kids on parents’ insurance until age 26. American families like it and it is not expensive.
Limiting Medicaid expansion makes sense, but there needs to be a clear pathway to meaningful coverage for those who would have been eligible.
Also, hospitals need to be made whole again in this process. They agreed to forgo supplementary payments because the Medicaid revenue stream was supposed to take its place.
We can’t take away the former without addressing the latter.
My message to both parties:
Medicare and Medicaid are both critical parts of our odd public/private patchwork of a health care system. They are both desperately in need of reform or they will begin to bankrupt states and sink our country into insolvency.
We are only able to tread water with payments on our federal debt because interest rates have been kept artificially low by our central bank for more than a decade.
The two main levers available to policy makers are:
•Tweak the numbers of Americans covered by some form of insurance
•Tweak the breadth of services covered by various policies – public and private.
This is the proverbial policy balloon – squeeze here, something pops out there.
But these levers ignore the elephant in the room – out-of-control health care costs. If we can bring down prices, there’s more than enough money sloshing around to get everyone all of what they need and some of what they want.
Innovations in cost control are going to come from the private sector and at the local level through hospitals and independent physician practices.
Hospitals and medical groups need to be given regulatory leeway to continue to experiment on ways to deliver healthcare more efficiently.
We see this locally in our system with many smart, dedicated hospital and medical professionals working to implement the Peninsula Regional Clinically Integrated Network – our local Accountable Care Organization.
Population health is a concept you will continue to hear more about. Population health is the combination of personal responsibility for maximizing personal health through better choices, and having access to coordinated care for our chronic health problems.
Implemented well, health care costs and prices will come down, and everyone will have some form of coverage.
We all deserve better.
Dr. Mark T. Edney is vice chairman of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.
WHAT WE NEED
•Americans will never accept a single-payer, government-controlled system.
•Government bureaucracies suffer from mission creep.
•Federal health care programs are too easily fleeced.
•Safety nets are a critical part of our social contract.
•We need a health care safety net that supports our most needy.
•Coverage of pre-existing conditions is here to stay.
•Lifetime caps and contract cancellations need to stay gone.
•Keep kids on parents’ insurance until age 26.
•Limit Medicaid expansion, but provide a clear pathway to meaningful coverage.