As Republicans and Democrats come together today at the Blair House for the Health Care Summit, a key player is notably missing. Aside from the hope of compromise, the doctors who practice medicine everyday, and whose entire industry is at stake, have not been invited to attend.
Dr. Hal Scherz, President of Docs 4 Patient Care, represents over 3,000 doctors in every state and has been an active voice in the health care debate since May 2009. His group endorses the idea that healthcare does need to be reformed, however, they believe the politicians in Washington are missing some very important points.
For starters Dr. Scherz points out that the American Medical Association, who endorsed the House Health Care Bill, is actually not representative of the majority of doctors in America. In truth, only 17% of doctors are members of the AMA and, as D4CP notes, "the AMA betrayed the very people that it was ostensibly meant to represent. This was to protect its $100M medical coding franchise that the federal government grants the AMA as the basis by which doctors and hospitals get paid by insurance companies and the federal government -- a major incentive for the group to endorse state-run medicine".
In their Prescription for Responsible Health Insurance Reform (kudos to the literary play), Docs 4 Patient Care points out that there is no problem with healthcare. Let’s repeat that – There is no problem with healthcare. The quality of healthcare in America is the best in the world; and it is a disservice to our amazing medical community that they are often slandered in the debate. The true issues, according to D4PC, are affordable access to health insurance, rising costs and an out of control tort system.
Integral to the doctors’ plan (how shocking they might know how to fix their own profession) is competition and choice; two ideals that have been at the center of making our country as great as it was before the current administration. They propose the repeal of the McCarron-Fergusson Act (an antitrust exemption favoring insurance companies) and relaxing restrictions on internet sales of healthcare insurance across state lines. They are for the elimination of the “pre-existing” condition penalty and encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts; which are currently are great option of which many consumers are unaware. It’s their addition to the current option of Health Savings Accounts that is truly exciting though. D4PC proposes that doctors and hospitals could publish fees/rankings online so patients could actually shop around for the best rates for services. Imagine knowing the cost before you visit the doctor!
The President’s Proposal also tackles the issue of affordability by, surprise, creating a federal board tasked with reviewing rate increases and determining whether the increases are justified. Unfortunately, it does not include instructions for the insurance companies on how they are supposed to keep their doors open while being forced to insure more people and not raising premiums. As for the controversial deal between the unions and the White House, the President has addressed that issue by extending those benefits to everyone; further lowering the largest avenue of revenue for his $950 billion proposal.
While the Republican Plan and Docs 4 Patient Care both address the issue of medical lawsuits, The President’s Proposal makes no mention of it; one may assume that the White House considers it a non-issue considering the eventuality of government health care. To the Republicans’ credit, their plan seems to compliment the D4PC plan very well. Unfortunately, the party that the public places most of their trust in, the doctors, will have to watch their future debated by politicians on CSPAN with the rest of the country.