SENSIBLE REFORM FOR HEALTH CARE
April 20, 2009
Health care reform is an illusive long-term goal that nobody quite seems to have a handle on. Everybody agrees we need to do something about it, but most of them disagree about what to do. Unless the system is changed, the costs of Medicare and Medicaid alone would consume the entire federal budget by the middle of this century, says the Paris-Post Intelligencer.
Proposed solutions generally fall into two broadly opposite categories: Increased involvement by the federal government, or relaxed controls to allow the market to operate.
According to John C. Goodman, founder and president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA):
- Doctors have virtually no ability to re-price or re-package their services the way every other professional does.
- Medicare dictates what it will pay for, what it won't pay for and the final price.
- Patients rarely talk to physicians on the phone any more because neither Medicare nor private insurers pay for phone consultations; the same goes for e-mail consultations, which are common in other professions.
- Medicare also doesn't help pay for digitizing of medical records or patient education that would allow home treatment of some ailments without seeing a doctor.
If we want to move medicine into the 21st century, says Goodman, we have to give doctors and hospitals the freedom to re-price and re-package their services in ways that neither increase the cost to government nor decrease the quality of service to the patient.
Source: Editorial, "Sensible reform for health care," Paris-Post Intelligencer, April 17, 2009.
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