A Few Reasons I'm Glad Kagen Won...

The first few paragraphs of a Post-Crescent Story:

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen plans to introduce legislation in Congress later this year for universal health care coverage.

His announcement to seniors at the Thompson Community Center on Friday came after he told them that he and U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., have introduced a bill to repeal the Medicare Part D late enrollment fee.

The bill, if approved, will be the first step to reform health care, he said.

Seniors who qualified to enroll in Medicare Part D but missed the May 2006 deadline and do not fall into a special enrollment period, pay 1 percent of the national average premium multiplied by the number of months they delayed enrollment.

"You shouldn't be fined for what the government can't explain to you," Kagen, D-Appleton, told a group of 30 seniors in attendance.

Additionally, Kagen said he has called on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to grant Wisconsin a waiver to let SeniorCare continue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Massive overhaul is going to happen, but not until the system collapses first under its own weight, which it will when access rather than cost becomes the main issue. That will happen when lots of doctors just reach a point where it's not worth it anymore and they either quit or refuse to see patients who don't pay, regardless of whether it's because the patients are cheapskates or just plain poor. You might think that's a long way off, but it's happening sporadically among some specialties and in some sections of the country right now. Witness the absence of obstetrical services in regions where high malpractice rates and low reimbursement have driven the providers away. In that situation, there is zero access and cost is irrelevant, and it becomes a crisis for everyone from politicians to peons.

How long would you stay in business selling gasoline if you were forced to accept 30 cents a gallon for fuel from people who carried a little government issued card that entitles them help themselves to as much fuel as they "needed" at that price? Sure, you could raise the retail price of fuel to everyone else to temporarily cover the difference ("cost shift", which is inherently unstable and which is being done in our present system) but sooner or later that system will collapse, much like our health care seems destined to do for very much the same reasons.

Right now the fragile system we have is actually being sustained by the altruism of the providers. It could be brought to a total collapse if the providers simply adopted a supply/demand/cost model that left insurance out of the equation. Doctors would have to establish market rates for their services and get paid in cash or credit card. Patients could finance that any way they wanted, including getting some of it through insurance benefits or taking out a loan, and doctor's offices could concentrate on providing care instead of being a referee for insurance issues. Insurance companies could compete for subscribers and offer discounts for those who make healthy lifestyle choices, like staying fit and not smoking. There would be complete access, as long patients could pay the prevailing fee for the service. But those who couldn't pay would not get care, unless someone else (i.e. the government) paid for it. But, the government would have to pay the full market driven cost, like they do for food or ashphalt or gasoline. If not, the poor and uninsured would be left without care. Doctors have always and will always have a hard time doing that, and the government policy makers know it. That's why they can continue going on like this pretending that the whole system works.

Unfortunately, when the total crisis hits, the government will be forced to take over. Do you really think that's a good thing? Picture the Post Office or the IRS or FEMA managing your health care. The tripod of quality, cost and access will become unbalanced and tilt over. Individual cost won't be the issue because it will have shifted entirely to the taxpayers, but you can bet that quality will, and while access will be promised to everyone, it will barely resemble what we have now.