Gov. Romney was wrong on health care

On Meet the Press, former Gov. Mitt Romney was asked about health care. The former Massachusetts governor, who is credited with getting health care in Massachusetts, is somehow seen as an expert on health care reform. Gov. Romney, when asked about health care reform, stated, “We have a model that worked.  One state in America, my state, was able to put in place a plan that got everybody health insurance, and it did not require a public government insurance company. That’s the last thing America needs.  You know exactly what it is.  President Obama, when he was campaigning, said he wanted a single payer system.  That’s would it would lead to.  He would subsidize this over time, it would become larger and larger, drive the private options out of the healthcare industry. It would be just disastrous for health care in this country.  And therefore the right way to proceed is to reform health care.  That we can do, as we did it in Massachusetts, as Wyden-Bennett is proposing doing it at the national level.  We can do it for the nation, we can get everybody insured, we can get the cost of health care down, but we don’t have to have government insurance and government running health care to get that done.”

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I thought David Gregory was supposed to be the moderator of a policy debate. Instead, he acted as a pitch man for the Republican infomercial. Gregory had plenty of opportunities to ask a decent follow-up question but instead he asked none. Here’s a few follow-up questions I would have asked:

  • Gov., you stated that in Massachusetts you have a model that “worked.” Exactly what you mean by “worked”? Massachusetts has a system that is spending 33% more on health care than the national average. Why is that?
  • Why would driving private options out of the healthcare industry be disastrous for America?
  • By expanding Medicare and Medicaid to cover the poorest people in Massachusetts haven’t you selected the healthiest people to be covered by private health insurance?
  • Aren’t some of the very high profile hospitals in Massachusetts getting paid more to do the same procedures are smaller hospitals?  Why is this?  How does this help decrease costs?
  • Finally, you said “we can get the cost of health care down” but in your state healthcare has done nothing but increase since the instituting of this reform program. Healthcare costs have increased since 2006 by 42%. How do you plan on controlling costs if you can’t even do it in the small state of Massachusetts?

Universal health care can control costs using several mechanisms.

  • Eliminate insurance costs. This saves $700 billion.
  • Negotiate drug prices. Give pharmaceutical companies longer patent times so they have the ability to recuperate their R&D costs.
  • Fund research to find the best medical options for the most common diseases which include congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and others.
  • Pay primary care physicians and hospitals differently. Hospitals and primary care physicians should each take care of a population of patients. This eliminates the incentive to see patients over and over and over again. Instead, we should increase incentives to see patients once and get it right the first time.
  • Truly look at medical products (wheelchairs, scooters, CT scanners and lab machines). The government working with physicians and other medical personnel should come up with guidelines for all of these devices. Who truly needs a scooter? Does every hospital need a CT scanner?
  • Fix the immigration problem. By closing our borders, and only letting in people that we want in this country, we can decrease the strain on the emergency rooms across the country.
  • Business saves. Businesses don’t have to spend any money trying to figure out healthcare plans. Instead, they can use that money to increase salaries and to increase investment into their business.
  • End of life. We have to begin to discuss end-of-life issues.

0 Responses

  1. And so if it is not actually working in Mass. (and I agree that it’s probably not all that it seems), then why in the world does anyone think that it will work if the U.S. gov’t does it? There is absolutely no basis for the insanity (inanity?) of those who think we need to completely overhaul the entire system, so that we can have the pleasure of a Canada- or England-style healthcare system; it does not work there, and it certainly won’t work here. Can some things be made better? Sure, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  2. Bud –

    If you make a program that has NO cost controls then you don’t have to be a genius to see that the costs will get out of control. So, they screwed up. We need to do better. The system that we have doesn’t work.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. The system works on many fronts, but yes, agreed, we can do better and there are areas that need to be improved, sp let’s focus on those areas. We don’t need to tear down the house to remodel the living room and den.

  4. Bud –

    My proposal changes how we pay for healthcare. Nothing else changes for patients. You can still go to your MD. You can still go to your hospital. You doctor may get paid differently. Large clinics will be given incentives to open earlier and stay open later to be more available to patients.

    Major remodeling does need to be done in the backrooms. The type of studies that are published really don’t do enough to help us MD’s take care of patients. Who is going to change that? Only the government has the power to do that. There is no reason that a drug company would fund a study in which their drug goes head to head with another drug. That doesn’t happen. We need to those types of studies so that we can determine the best practice.

    Throughout most of this debate we have talked about hospitals and doctors but there has been very little talk about rehab and skill nursing facilities. Are these cost-effective? Can rehab be better delivered in the home? How can we keep patients out of nursing homes? Does assisted living increase or decrease costs?

    We need answers to these questions and they aren’t going to be done my industry. If we are going to save money we need these answers.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  5. If we do not take care of the young, the elderly, the infirmed… what kind of society are we? Single payer will fix -so- many ills in our system, we can cover everyone; I don’t see how this can be argued. Further, by mandating -everyone- participate [warning, high school math follows] the denominator gets big enough that the cost per person drops to an acceptable level. (Right now, “skimming” [ie, only covering lowest risk clients], makes cost for others unmanageable.) Further, with federally mandated single payer system, our various employers will then be able to compete on the world’s stage w/o inherent fiscal disadvantage wrt all other civilized countries in the world. (NB: Healthcare for retirees was -the- critical cost ‘insuring’ GM would be driven into bankruptcy!)

  6. couldnt have said it better myself. if all the waste was taken out of the system, like in canada, our costs for health would go down. i shouldnt have to be charged over $120 for one month of statins, when in canada for the same meds its about $20.

    but everyone of your salient points will be overruled by kstreet and everyone who is taking big payouts from them……..

    no way will big pharma and the chamber of excess let it happen………

  7. @barf: K street is indeed a “problem”. In fact, it may be -the- [real underlying] problem!

  8. Iodefinition-

    We have to reign in K-Street. The ethics measures that Obama has in place is a step in the right direction but just a small step. We need more. We need to close the revolving door that is between the government and K street.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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