Health care delayed… maybe.

Wisconsin should take the lead…

By Jack E. Lohman

It is amazing that good health care reform has so many opponents.

In a day that we have so many people without jobs or employer health coverage, and virtually every employer being pushed to the wall, you’d think that pragmatism would trump idealism. At least during these dire times.

But it hasn’t.

Insurance interests are making heavy campaign contributions to keep themselves in the loop, which they have accomplished even though they drain 31% of today’s health care costs without ever laying hands on the patient. And ideologues are right with them, though in many cases they are also employed in the industry. Even so-called “think tanks” are paid to push the for-profit agenda.

Importantly, nobody is looking at where we’ll be in ten years if we don’t fix the system. Corporations like Motorola have already started to bring their own medical services on-premises. That means that for-profit CEOs will eventually be calling the shots rather than your doctor. Some employers have formed co-operative health care systems where — guess what? — for-profit CEOs will again be calling the shots over your doctor.

This is not a pretty picture. Doctors will hate it, nurses will hate it, hospitals will hate it, and eventually even the insurance industry will hate it.

So why would anybody support it? Short term gains.

The best, simplest, least costly, most effective thing we could do is expand what has been working so well for years, Medicare. You get sick, you get care, and the caregiver gets paid. Nothing could be simpler.

And Medicare-for-all would save every corporation in Wisconsin and the United States $6000 per employee per year, and they’d be hiring rather than firing people. Our economy would come alive even without the bailout for the bankers.

Medicare isn’t free healthcare. We’d just pay for it with taxes rather than through employers and job losses and welfare. The cost would be the same as we are paying today, and it’d cover everybody. It has a 20% deductible and it doesn’t cover everything, but it covers enough and you can buy the rest on the outside. You know; with cash dollars in the free market.

Our state legislature and governor should beat the Feds to the punch. An expanded BadgerCare-for-all system would attract businesses to the state and keep alive the ones that are already here.

Tidbits:

  • It appears that the Dems will do at least one thing right in funding a national healthcare database. This will save lives and ultimately let us grade physicians on the basis of outcomes rather than bedside manner.
  • They have an excellent start with this, having already paid for such a system for the VA Medical Center (called VistA). But of course it is publicly owned and public entities can’t give campaign contributions, so a private system will likely prevail. 
  • Or more likely, a hundred private systems.
  • As well, the medical malpractice system must be replaced with a 3-man judge panel. The 12-man jury should be reserved for criminals and politicians.
  • Legal cash bribes to politicians are our biggest problem, because without those they’d fix this system overnight. But we all know that.
  • 8 Responses to Health care delayed… maybe.

    1. dan says:

      This article is lacking a lot of details to back up its claims. Perhaps Jack should get his head out of the blissful liberal clouds and come back to earth. There are plenty of happy folks working at QuadMed – next year will be its 20th anniversary. At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself – who do I trust more to make policy governing my healthcare benefits, some faceless bureaucrat that sees my sickness at a drain on healthcare dollars – or a representative of the company I work for. A company that needs and appreciates my contributions. A company that earns more money when I am healthy and highly productive. A company that wants to get me healthy (and back to work) QUICKLY. That wants to discover major medical issues EARLY to prevent major costs, procedures, operations, and prevent long/short term disability claims.
      No – if you ask me, my employer has much more incentive to keep me healthy than my government.

    2. Dan, QuadMed is an exception because of its management… today. Is it the same at Motorola? Will it change when some hotshot CEO comes in and decides that costs can be cut by getting rid of some employee whose kid has diabetes or other family disease? Or one that doesn’t believe in stem cell treatments? Would you trust GM’s CEO with your health?

      I doubt it. All corporations are not like QuadMed, whom I’ve known and respected for years.

      With Medicare-for-all your treatment is between you and your doctor. True, they will not cover for certain experimental and cosmetic procedures, but you or your employer can pay for those outside the system.

    3. dan says:

      The entire basis for your article is resting on the fact that private company owned health care programs (are or will) engage in unethical dealings behind the scenes. With this being the case, I would perhaps suggest that you find at least one example where it has occurred. In addition, to help further your agenda (of drumming up fear of the private sector managing health care solutions), I’d suggest that you avoid using companies (like Quad) which have received only the highest of praise and accolades from others (including yourself).

      Let’s also not confuse the fact that healthcare (and your job, for that matter) is a benefit and a privilege, not a right. When choosing to accept a job, the employer’s detailed health benefit package should be considered. If your company starts to employ undesirable health care tactics, you have the choice to quit and find work somewhere else.

      I understand that not everyone has the skills or perhaps the motivation (thank you welfare type programs) to get a job with good health care benefits, and I can accept that these people should not suffer with medical aliments. This is truly one of the few places where I encourage government to flounder its way through providing healthcare.

    4. I pointed to Quad as a leader in a trend, Dan, not as part of the problem. Whatever the issue I expect that they’ll continue to be one of the best.

      But this issue is a continuing detriment to all US businesses, including Quad, and I suspect that given the opportunity they too may even prefer eliminating their healthcare costs in favor of a single payer system. Please review Medicare-for-all is best corporate bailout…

      As for those not liking the health care provided by their employer’s in-house doctors, most cannot easily find another job in today’s market. Nor should they be forced to select their employment on the basis of the health care benefit.

    5. And Dan, I suspect that you are looking at this from the side of the employee. Health care typically costs employers 15% of wages. If things get tight for Quad, would you prefer them eliminating that 15% cost or laying off employees?

    6. dan says:

      I will say it again Jack. I understand the point you are making, but try backing it up by finding some examples where a successful company’s ‘for profit CEO’ has already screwed over their employees. Chances are, you won’t find one – because a successful business plan doesn’t include screwing over employees. And if things get tight, yes – you do lay people off. Let’s face it – we are talking about free enterprise here (at least for now).

    7. Well, we’re at a stalemate, Dan. I think Quad is better off without the unnecessary burden of the 15% wage-premium for health care costs, and fewer employees would be laid off as a result. And I think that (most) employees would be better off with an independent doctor that they can take with them if they leave the company. You are lucky. Keep your job and you won’t have to worry.

    8. Dan, you might find this exchange interesting….

      February 13, 2009

      All insurance plans make decisions about what they will cover. With employer-sponsored insurance, insurance carriers know that their client is the employer, whose only interest is keeping costs down. There is only downward pressure.

      The people who run public insurance have pressure to keep costs down, but it is balanced by pressure from the public (to whom they are ultimately accountable, especially with a program like Medicare that is not only for the poor) to keep quality and services up. So there is a balancing of downward and upward pressure.

      Even if we move from employer-sponsored coverage to individuals buying their own insurance, the pressure would still be overwhelmingly downward. When making the choice among possible plans to buy, individuals are also under enormous pressure to focus exclusively on price. Hardly anyone would ask whether CTC is covered.

      Since someone is going to make choices about what gets covered, we’re all better off if it is done by publicly-sponsored, publicly-funded and publicly-accountable coverage.

      Richard N. Gottfried
      Chair, Committee on Health
      New York State Assembly

      See Dr. Don McCann’s (pnhp.org) response HERE

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