A Government Healthcare Plan? You Can't Be Serious

American Thinker June 29, 2009, By Matthew Council

Excessive Government involvement is what's wrong with our current healthcare system.

One prominent example: FDA regulation and Medicare/Medicaid policies are suppressing new drug and device options and increasing healthcare costs. The FDA's approval process for new technologies costs companies between 250 and 800 million dollars. It takes an average of 8.5 years to move through the FDA's clinical and approval phases and there is no guarantee of approval. Out of 5000 compounds discovered in the pre-clinical stage, only about 5 will make it through. The cost of approved and non-approved drugs and devices are passed on to the physician practice, hospitals, surgery centers and patients. As a result, competition is shrinking and new treatments that can potentially save lives, cure chronic illnesses and decrease treatment costs are delayed by red tape and a high cost of entry.

Doctors are being squeezed, and that means supply will also be diminished. In the midst of rising costs, Medicare and Medicaid have made Fee Schedule cuts every year for the past 7 years. Medicare's 2008 fee schedule only covered the practice/facility overhead and left nothing to pay the physicians.

In 2007, the American Medical Association surveyed 8995 physicians to determine their responses to the 2008 Medicare payment cuts. 59% of the physicians said they would stop providing patient care to Medicare patients, 60% will close a satellite office, 72% will discontinue nursing home visits and 68% will reduce workflow hours by 2016 if the cuts continued.

What did our government run healthcare plan do in response? They created the Health Professional Shortage Area Incentive Program (HPSA provides a 10% bonus to Providers in shortage areas), which will inevitably result in more cuts and increase physician scarcity in other areas.

Our current Government Healthcare Plan throws money at symptoms of the problem and makes cuts in areas that create/exacerbate other problems. They discontinue coverage of efficient and cost effective treatments and increase premiums/copays to patients while rewarding more expensive, prolonged and complex care.

Medicare and Medicaid are unable to cost effectively handle the 43 million+ patients they insure. In 2006 the Office of Inspector General estimated that Medicare's overpayments tally was $10.8 billion (down from 23 billion in 1996). These figures did not include the cost of fraud and administrative errors that totaled 12.3 billion, and the 7 billion in uncollected receivables that had to be written off (does not include Medicaid). This is a 30 billion dollar reason why Government Healthcare is not an option.

There is no question that government involvement is needed to protect patients from harmful drugs, faulty devices and malpractice. Our government's primary role is to protect us, but unfortunately, they also use regulations, taxes, licensing and certifications to please special interest groups and dictate the healthcare industry's direction. The Government's involvement at current extremes has proven to create an unattainable cost of entry, competition scarcity, and hyper-inflated treatment costs. When you add annual reimbursement cuts, excessive regulation expenses, expensive licensing/certification, exorbitant agency fees, increased taxes, and excessive fines, you end up with a negative ROI and zero access. Fixing Healthcare's Government involvement problem with a Government Healthcare Plan makes as much sense as taking a bath in a mud puddle. You end up dirtier, get ringworm and can't find a doctor who will see you. BTW: Your Government Healthcare Plan won't cover the doctor's visit or Nizoral cream anyway. So look on the bright side! An over the counter alternative exists! It may take 10 times longer to work and has less than a 50% success rate, but at least you have something. Right?

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