Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Panelists: Universal health care can work

October 17, 2007

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Local group tries to solve health care crisis

'Kansas Health Care for All' held a forum tonight at Lawrence Memorial Hospital addressing the problem of the country's 47-million uninsured. Enlarge video

Panelists preached to the choir Tuesday night as they advocated for every American to have health care insurance.

In its second forum, Kansas Health Care for All played host to a panel of doctors. Their consensus was that a government-run health insurance system - similar to Medicare, but offered to all - could work.

Michael Fox, a panelist and president of Kansas Health Care Consumer Coalition, said such a system would be easy to understand, use infrastructure already in place, save money, make the country more competitive globally and keep private insurance companies intact but rein in their profits.

"But the most persuasive argument I have heard is that it is simply the right thing to do," Fox said.

Joining Fox on the panel were Bill Roy, a former U.S. Congressman, and Raymond Davis, a retired professor with Kansas University's Department of Public Administration. Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Dr. David Goering moderated the discussion.

Goering started off the night with a PowerPoint presentation as he told the crowd that while the United States spends far more per person on health care than any country in the world, its quality of service lags behind.

Goering treats patients who are admitted to the hospital. Many are uninsured and use the emergency room as a medical avenue of last resort. Goering noted that not taking care of the uninsured can be expensive.

"We leave people out thinking it will cost less, but it ends up costing more. Oftentimes when they go to the ER, their care is delayed, their disease has advanced, and we end up paying for that," he said.

The audience at LMH's auditorium numbered more than a hundred. It was a mix of seniors, health care professionals, universal health care advocates and students. For more than 45 minutes, they peppered the panelists with questions.

After panelists extolled the virtues of Canada's universal health care system, some in the crowd wanted to know if it resulted in long waits and substandard care.

"It's pretty much the opposite," Davis said. "They are more careful in the way they allocate resources and in spending more time trying to figure out what works."

One audience member wanted to know when the discussion - and advocates - would shift from policy to politics.

Roy said a change toward universal health care needs a U.S. Congress that has two-thirds of its members from the Democratic Party.

Fox disagreed, saying the problem isn't one clearly defined by party lines. He urged the audience to start at the grass-roots level.

"People have to get active," Fox said.

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

Currently, about 64% of our health care system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes and tax subsidies. These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, coverage for public employees (including teachers), elected officials, military personnel, etc. There are also hefty tax subsidies to employers to help pay for their employees' health insurance. About 17% of heath care is financed by all of us individually through out-of-pocket payments, such as co-pays, deductibles, the uninsured paying directly for care, people paying privately for premiums, etc. Private employers only pay 19% of health care costs. In all, it is a very "regressive" way to finance health care, in that the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for health care than higher income individuals do.

By bringing all tax dollars spent on numerous different medical care programs under one umbrella plus the administrative cost savings which is huge we're almost there. And take notice all of those currently covered under the 64% are not complaining about tax dollar coverage of their healthcare. Why should anyone?

BigDog 7 years, 8 months ago

After panelists extolled the virtues of Canada's universal health care system, some in the crowd wanted to know if it resulted in long waits and substandard care.

"It's pretty much the opposite," Davis said. "They are more careful in the way they allocate resources and in spending more time trying to figure out what works."

Sounds like Mr. Davis avoided the question ...... I encourage people to take the time to research and read up on the Canadian health care system. If it is so great ...... why do so many Canadians come to the United States for health care?

BigDog 7 years, 8 months ago

Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

How would a single nonprofit payer acheive this kind of savings? Impact on insurance compnies?

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 8 months ago

Somebody should send the panelists this article:

shockchalk 7 years, 8 months ago

Hmmmm, pretending to know why Canadians come to the US for healthcare? Crap

The only read difference between Canada and the US is that your level of wealth determines your access to care? TOTAL CRAP

Managed care is impossible without some form of rationing? More Crap

Well, top to bottom, illogicbound0snores post is total CRAP so I guess now we know who is pimping who?

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Did the panel address how we are to fund this government run health program in light of the looming 27 Trillion Dollar shortfall in the current government run programs, Medicare and Medicaid?

BigDog 7 years, 8 months ago

If Canadian health care system is addressing all of the needs in Canada, why are so many Canadians coming to the United States for health care?

james bush 7 years, 8 months ago

There seems no end to people wanting to give away other people's money with more government programs and bureacracy. Make it possible for the private sector to stay engaged and manage health care, but certainly don't let the federal government do it.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Logicsound04, you and Merrill are living in another reality if you think there will be "savings" from combining Medicaid/Medicare and other government programs with a new government program. I ask again, where does the massive budget shortfall for Medicare and Medicaid alone factor into your scheme? How will your scheme solve the problem that, as of 2015, medicare will be broke and payments for care will have to come from current payroll taxes?

Michael Throop 7 years, 8 months ago

The former congressman is doing what all politicians do well, obfuscate. The wait to get on a LIST to get in to see a physician is short,but the actual wait time to see a health care professional can be,at minimum,three months. Canadians are routinely sent to the U.S. for specialized care. Take note of the recent baby boomlet in British Columbia that the Canadian health system could not handle-not enough neonatal facilities,so they shipped mom to Seattle.Check the Seattle Times, hardly the paragon of conservative values, for the story. Physicians are fleeing the system for the U.S. health care system,or leaving the healthcare profession altogether.Their renumeration is not adequate-the socialists may want them to shut up and work for nothing,but these people have choices,and they are making them. And, then,there's the Valhalla of government-operated health programs,the National Health System,where it's reported,so many dentists have left the program,people are pulling their own teeth. There's the landscape for the nirvana of government-controlled health care versus our flawed but fixable private pay system. I know which I would rather concentrate on!

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

dotslines, I agree with your analysis; Merrill and Logicsound04 have the solution to the providers' fixed cost overhead: make all medical providers employees of the government.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Has Kansas Health Care for All registered as a fund raising and recruiting arm of the Democrat party? If not, sue their butts!

"One audience member wanted to know when the discussion - and advocates - would shift from policy to politics.

Roy said a change toward universal health care needs a U.S. Congress that has two-thirds of its members from the Democratic Party."

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Then the solution is not a solution. You will be doing nothing to reduce overhead, you will only multiply the paperwork and redtape.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Hey, merrill and logicsound04, what will you do with all those dastardly insurance company shysters and their corrupt staff workers when you transfer all their work to the government?

pace 7 years, 8 months ago

You want people to take the time to refute your fake letter. I would rather discuss how important changing the health care system is . Health care access is now tied to your employer in most cases. This gives the large corporations advantages over their employees and over small business. It would be a boon to small businesses to be able to compete for good employees without that shell game. it would be a boon to employees to chose they jobs without having the family health held hostage. That is just some of the economic advantages to an independent government health care system. A basic standardized care system should replace If we had a national base for basic health care, that would not exclude private and supplemental policies from the system. It would just reduce our dependence on corporate and insurance companies control of our health care design.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Logicsound04 wrote: "More health care providers, especially in the field of long-term care and home health care,"

Now you are talking about broadening this government sponsored health care coverage to include long term care and home health care??????? That is a multi billion, if not multi trillionm dollar expansion in government entitlements.

See, folks, give them an inch, and they will take a mile.

Godot 7 years, 8 months ago

Regarding the number of government workers it will take to replace the displaced private workers, my personal, up close experience has been that it takes three workers in government to do what one worker in the private sector accomplishes.

kansas778 7 years, 8 months ago

To reiterate:

When the government "negotiates" prices they are really setting prices. A government insurance plan would grant the government a monopoly on insurance, and they would set prices. A health care provider would have no leverage to negotiate prices against a government monopoly. History has shown time and again that price controls have adverse effects. The recent flu shot shortage was directly caused by price controls. So while you claim that government health insurance would not be government control, in essence it would be because they would control the health care industry indirectly through the price controls. Health care is not an unlimited resource, and the free market system is the most efficient way to distribute limited resources. Indeed, this is the chief compliant of people in the model government insurance countries: that the medical procedures they desire are in short supply-see the article about British dental care. Granting the government a monopoly on health insurance would not increase the supply of medical care, only the demand, and thus would cause shortages like we see in other countries with that system.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

Why would anyone want to keep healthcare based on how much someone can pay?

Why would anyone want to continue paying higher premiums?

Why would anyone look for so many ways to keep excellent healthcare for all out of the picture?

Investments in the healthcare industry perhaps.

=================== Doctors for National Health Insurance Our Mission: Single-Payer National Health Insurance

Greg Silver, MD (Fl.) The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $7,129 per capita. Yet our system performs poorly in comparison and still leaves 47 million without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

This is because private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

Is national health insurance "socialized medicine"?

No. Socialized medicine is a system in which doctors and hospitals work for the government and draw salaries from the government. Doctors in the Veterans Administration and the Armed Services are paid this way. Examples also exist in Great Britain and Spain. But in most European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan they have socialized financing, or socialized health insurance, not socialized medicine. The government pays for care that is delivered in the private (mostly not-for-profit) sector. This is similar to how Medicare works in this country. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds. The government does not own or manage their medical practices or hospitals.

The term socialized medicine is often used to conjure images of government bureaucratic interference in medical care. That does not describe what happens in countries with national health insurance. It does describe the interference by insurance company bureaucrats in our health system.

Currently, about 64% of our health care system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes and tax subsidies. These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, coverage for public employees (including teachers), elected officials, military personnel, etc. There are also hefty tax subsidies to employers to help pay for their employees' health insurance. About 17% of heath care is financed by all of us individually through out-of-pocket payments, such as co-pays, deductibles, the uninsured paying directly for care, people paying privately for premiums, etc. Private employers only pay 19% of health care costs. In all, it is a very "regressive" way to finance health care, in that the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for health care than higher income individuals do

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

Doesn't everyone wait to a doctor? Don't most visits require an appointment aka waiting your turn? Many times we wait after arrival which can require 60-90 minutes out of your day. Most every procedure requires scheduling = waiting. Yes americans wait their turn and have been doing so for a few decades. Americans even need to wait for prescriptions to be filled. Americans even need to schedule car repairs.

Why the focus on Canada? The insurance industry has it's character assassination team in high gear.

We want National Health Insurance USA style. Considering 64% of current healthcare is funded with tax dollars and no one covered is complaining about taxpayers covering the expense surely it cannot be too bad. After all nothing about USA healthcare changes except who pays the bills for everyone.

Physicians for a National Health Program is a nonprofit organization of 14,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance. http://www.pnhp.org/about/about_pnhp.php

Of course healthcare insurance companies, over paid CEO's and investors are not going to be happy but so what....they've had their picnic.

kansas778 7 years, 8 months ago

"Doesn't everyone wait to a doctor? Don't most visits require an appointment aka waiting your turn? Many times we wait after arrival which can require 60-90 minutes out of your day."

I think you are in denial if you think 60 minutes waiting in your doctor's office is comparable to the wait times experienced by those in your model countries. Yes, US patients have to schedule their procedures, maybe for next week, not next YEAR.

waydownsouth 7 years, 8 months ago

I can agree that something needs to be done about healthcare. But instead of listening to what the government wants us to know about the proposed plan I think asking my current doctor what she thinks and my childrens doctor. They are going to be the major players in this. I'm sure they will be able to give me more accurate pros and cons to this.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 8 months ago

"I think you are in denial if you think 60 minutes waiting in your doctor's office is comparable to the wait times experienced by those in your model countries. Yes, US patients have to schedule their procedures, maybe for next week, not next YEAR"

Depends on what needs to be done. I've never picked a model country. This is my model based on what I've read over the past year. National Health Insurance USA style. Considering 64% of current healthcare is funded with tax dollars and no one covered is complaining about taxpayers covering the expense surely it cannot be too bad. After all nothing about USA healthcare changes except who pays the bills for everyone according to what I've read.

Judging from personal family experience medicare covers a lot of medical situations so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just refine the system to meet current or improved levels and give all a medicare card.

Universal care in Canada did create new jobs as Toyota chose Canada for a new plant instead of the USA recently.

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