A Patient Advocate's View

Same Old Mis-Dis-information and lies

President Obama has written a letter to plead his case for keeping the Affordable Care Act in tact. The Dems continue to say that the Republicans don’t have a plan for replacement, however that is not strictly true. They do want to keep the pieces of legislation that are popular, like children staying on the parents plans and coverage for pre-existing conditions, and maybe even subsidies for low-income workers. But, other than that, the main idea they have is to do away with the mandates on employers and individuals. That is the popular idea that got Trump elected. However, their plan for accomplishing all this is to keep it in the hands of the insurance companies. Here’s where both party’s plans will always fail. To put it into a nutshell, here is the great Don McCanne of Physicians for a National Health Plan.
Comment by Don McCanne
The negative consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act without replacing it with measures that address some of the problems that ACA was designed to fix have been well publicized. President Obama is right to warn us about repealing ACA without replacing it. But the full story is more complex.
Although the Republicans are moving ahead with including repeal of ACA in the budget reconciliation process, we do not have any details about what is being repealed nor when the repeal would actually take place, if ever. And the Republicans have no clue as to what their replacement would be, especially since it is obvious that their favored proposals such as health savings accounts and selling insurance across state borders would not effectively address the deficiencies that would be recreated by repeal.
Of greater concern, President Obama’s warning about repealing without replacement misses the bigger picture. ACA only tweaked our dysfunctional financing system when we needed comprehensive reform.
Obama touts ACA measures that supposedly saved money by replacing quantity with quality, but, in fact, such measures have not had even a negligible impact on overall cost containment. What they have done is to increase administrative complexity and waste, resulting in an epidemic of physician burnout.
He touts the increase in the numbers of individuals insured, but ignores the deterioration in quality of the coverage through the increase in financial barriers to care, especially high deductibles, and the impaired access that is resulting from expanded use of ever narrower provider networks.
He expresses regret that guaranteeing coverage to individuals with preexisting disorders requires a very unpopular individual mandate to purchase insurance (to prevent adverse selection), and yet he remains silent on the fact that social insurance programs such as Medicare are extremely popular and they rely on automatic coverage instead on an individual decision on whether or not to comply with a mandate.
He repeats the tag line that he used when he rejected single payer reform: we need to “build on what works and fix what does not.” Yet ACA patched only a few problems but did not begin to address the major deficiencies of our health care financing infrastructure, especially those resulting in profound administrative waste. ACA provided tweaks when we needed a new infrastructure.
And then – Primum non nocere – First do no harm. A system in which people are suffering, going broke, and sometimes even dying, is a system which is doing great harm. Reform should not be slogan driven. It should be built on what really does work to actually reduce harm. A single payer national health program – improved Medicare for all – does precisely that.

January 6, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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