By Alieta Eck, MD
Dr. Tom Price, our new Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been accused of belonging to a “conservative, fringe medical group” that “holds positions that are at wide variance with the basics of federal health policy,” according to The Washington Post.
For example, Dr. Price was heard to say that “anything that gets in the way of the patient… their families and physicians making decisions about what kind of health care they desire—we ought not go down that road.” But wait—if federal policy keeps patients from making free choices about their medical care, should we not change that policy?
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons was founded in 1943 to champion and preserve the private patient-physician relationship. Is it now “unorthodox” to believe that the interests and well-being of the patient ought to be paramount?
AAPS successfully sued Hillary Clinton for having illegal closed door meetings in her attempt to develop the precursor of what became the Affordable Care Act. If it is “right-wing,” “fringe,” and “less than mainstream” to believe that government officials should tell the truth and obey open-meetings laws, AAPS members will say, “guilty as charged.”
AAPS doctors want patients to be able to get the care they need. It is the government that coerces, restricts, requires more and more documentation, insists on cumbersome coding systems, and erects a maddening bureaucracy that gets in the way of good care. How many times have patients quipped that the doctors pay more attention to their computers than to the patient? This is only to meet government demands.
Dr. Tom Price opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), not because he wants to see patients shut out of the very best medical care possible, but because this law is actually a very expensive impediment to care. An insurance card does not guarantee access to medical care, as many are learning. The majority of the “newly insured” got Medicaid, a program that is rife with fraud and full of frustrated patients who are unable to get the psychiatric care, pain control, and elective surgery that the plans promise.
Defenders of Obamacare apparently believe in a benevolent higher level of government that is concerned about every patient getting needed medical treatment. In fact, government simply cannot “care.”
It is individual Americans who care. Americans are a kind and compassionate people. But our nation was founded by patriots who valued freedom. And that freedom brought us the prosperity and innovation that allows us to offer the best care in the history of the world.
Repealing Obamacare will permit the development of voluntary (“free-market”) approaches that work. For example, Health Savings Accounts will eliminate the middleman for routine medical care. Direct payment for routine medical care by check, cash, or credit card—the way we pay for everything else—is far more economical and efficient. Insurance should only be for unforeseen catastrophic medical events.
The role of government should be to monitor that insurance companies represent products honestly, are financially solvent, and abide by their contracts. No one would voluntarily buy a policy that could be cancelled when a subscriber became ill.
Dr. Price recognizes that the federal-state Medicaid system, which consumes one-third of the average state budget, is top heavy in bureaucracy and skimpy in care. His solution would be to block-grant the federal dollars back to the states. Free of federal strings, states could develop better ways to provide care, and could not profit from “gaming the system” to draw down more federal dollars.
The replacement of Obamacare needs to be freedom—not a one-size-fits-all set of rules, mandates, and penalties. Patients must be free to choose, rather than being locked into a restrictive network. Most care should be paid for without an “insurance” (third-party) middleman—with dollars controlled by the patient instead of being sucked into the coffers of third parties in the form of outrageous premiums for mandated “comprehensive coverage.” Insurance should be reserved for the 8% of medical events that exceed an affordable threshold.
Care for the poor is constitutionally a state and local, not federal, responsibility.
The federal government needs to get out of the way if we are to have personal, affordable, compassionate care. Who could possibly be opposed to that?
Dr. Alieta Eck graduated from the Rutgers College of Pharmacy and the St. Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. She studied Internal Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ, and currently practices in in Piscataway, NJ. (photo via Wikipedia)