All the Democrats have gone down the Old Town Road for government-run healthcare, and it’s not the answer Americans are looking for. Even union workers who used to have gold-plated health insurance know they aren’t going to get better healthcare from Uncle Sam than they got from Blue Cross in their union plan. The only people who actually believe the manure Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are flinging are youngsters who’ve been on their parents’ plans and don’t remember when things were better.
One of this generation’s smartest Republicans, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, wrote an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal focusing on some concrete policies Republicans should pursue to ease the burden on American workers. Jindal is on target.
We’ve known for a decade that Obamacare was destined to fail, and I have always strongly suspected that it was intended to fail, in order for a Democrat in office to act as savior and take things over completely. Back in 2015, when it looked like the ACA would be struck down, only to have Chief Justice Roberts side with the hacks in Congress to save it, the Republican Study Committee in the House looked at ways to offer a better system. I wrote a deep dive on that, but the whole thing died on the vine. I’ve looked at the issues pretty closely.
I say that not to blow my own horn, but so you understand that I’ve owned businesses, been in business for myself, and run healthcare plans for small businesses for two decades. This is as bad as I’ve ever seen healthcare costs for average workers. Health insurers and healthcare providers are scrambling to find way to cut costs, to provide the basic services people want, and all Obamacare did was inflate the cost of compliance, and the cost of providing services with limited supply to an ever-increasing demand.
Government should get involved, but only to the extent that its involvement would help private companies adapt to consumer needs. Democrats want to social-engineer healthcare to determine who lives and who dies, who gets a drug and who doesn’t, so that outcomes fit neatly into racial, socioeconomic, and other diversity pockets. We all know it doesn’t work that way.
The main areas Jindal says need reform are:
Like President Trump has done with NATO and other defense pacts, he should call upon our allies to bear a greater share of drug research costs, since they benefit from their national health plans negotiating lower drug prices. This is a novel approach, and I’m not sure how well it will work with offshore drug companies, but it’s certainly worth trying. However, we don’t need a tariff war with medicines.
Lord, yes! The whole “in-network, out of network” maze is broken and leave healthcare consumers at the mercy of arcane and opaque billing systems designed to biopsy their wallets. It’s a travesty that someone going in for routine outpatient surgery would get a $5,000 bill–not covered–because the anesthesiologist who filled in that day was not “in network” for the insurance company.
It’s a crime that ER’s will charge for an entire “crash cart” if they break the seal on a cabinet to get one bottle of pain reliever. They get away with this stuff because we can’t decipher their bills, and insurance companies process EOBs with the efficiency of the Driver Services office at lunchtime on Christmas Eve.
“Surprise bills” are something that states (including Georgia) are beginning to take seriously. It’s past time for Congress to propose standards and tame this leviathan.
Congress has absolute authority to regulate patents, given in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The right of inventors to their patents is not an absolute right–it’s tempered by our society’s needs and the ethical concerns of commercial gains versus scientific progress. Congress tried to address this problem most recently in 2011 with the America Invents Act, with mixed results. Both patent trolls who jack up consumer prices and “reverse trolls” who blackmail legitimate patent holders damage our healthcare system.
This is a sticky point–insurers should be able to negotiate lower prices with a cadre of healthcare providers, but providers should also have a way to break the stranglehold of big health insurers armed with ultimatums.
Early in 2018, Georgia Piedmont health system and Blue Cross Blue Shield got into a scrap that left thousands of state employees out of network, and subject to enormous out-of-pocket costs. It took the governor forcing the two sides to sit down and agree to end the deadlock.
Small providers have no such leverage, and frequently get knocked around in and out of networks. This leads small town doctors and individual family practitioners to seek shelter in larger organizations. It literally kills family doctoring as a profession. Now, Americans are faced with the choice to go to a “doc in the box” clinic at a CVS pharmacy or Kroger, or hop to whatever is in network.
The fruit of Obamacare is the exact opposite of “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Why? Because standardizing care standards of what’s covered and what isn’t caused insurers to button up their network agreements, locking out the little guys. I found I was much better off for a few years using Medi-Share, a Christian medical sharing ministry, simply because you could see any doctor you wanted with the same deductible.
American healthcare is broken, but not dead. Going toward the Democrats M4A solution is the way to kill it. Republicans can counter this with real action in 2020 that will ease the real burdens American workers face. They should listen to Bobby Jindal.