Can we fix Medicare?

Yes, but not while the politicians are on the payroll of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries!

By Jack E. Lohman

So, for this we must first install honest politicians who are working for the public rather than private interests? You know, like, get rid of the payola? Egads!

Medicare Part D

The biggest political payback ever. A $780 billion dollar giveaway to the drug industry, and my Congressman (Jim Sensenbrenner) owned $5M in drug company stock when he voted for it.

Have they no shame? They don’t even try to hide their conflicts of interest any more.

Separate our hospital and doctor employment

This is a direct conflict of interest. There was a day when doctors oversaw the quality of hospitals; now they are employed by and beholden to them. And hospitals can adjust salaries and give “productivity bonuses” based on how many admissions they make or expensive tests they order (both whether needed or not).

Yes, the higher costs affect private insurers as well!

Separate our clinic/doctor and lab ownership

When doctors work for a clinic that owns their own testing lab, or they even own their own EKG machine, a conflict of interest and excessive ordering can easily result. All labs should be separate ownership, either owned by the hospitals or independent businessmen. Few of us would object to going to the hospital for needed tests.

Fee-for-service payment system

Aside from a healthcare system with salaried doctors, the fee-for-service seems the only option. Perhaps reducing reimbursements with increased volumes could discourage over-ordering, but the last two reforms (above) should do that on its own.

Privatize Medicare?

You mean, like, adding the extra 20% needed by the private insurance industry to offset its high CEO salary and benefit and retirement packages and brokerage commissions and shareholder profits and campaign bribes (er, political costs)?

No thanks. It is 95% private already and works just great as it is. It has its weaknesses, but they can be solved with political will. Unfortunately the politicians are being paid to NOT solve them.

Medicare Fraud?

And yes, fraud exists in Medicare as well in the private system. The best way to clean that up is to expand the whistle-blower protections so that employees effectively provide the oversight. And if government forces can’t root out the individual scam artists, give oversight to a private company. (Ouch!)

State Certificate of Need programs

Should be reinstated, but the same campaign bribes that were needed to get the law repealed, still exist. The CON prevented aggressive hospitals from overbuilding in areas they weren’t needed. But they could get by with it because they employed their own doctors to refer patients. But this conflict affects both public and private costs.

But fixing Medicare will not happen as long as our state and federal politicians are on the payroll of the industry vultures that want the system to remain broken.

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