Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Morons At The Gate

If significant health care reform is defeated, and people's bills continue to rise with more and more of the GDP being eaten without improved outcomes, idiotic mentality will be a leading cause. As promised, the NJ Tea Party folks visited the town hall meetings of Rep. Steve Rothman yesterday, and as The Record reports, it got a bit rowdy.

However, the lack of commonsense in those protesting could not be overlooked:

When a supporter of universal coverage declared “all Americans are entitled to health care,” he was greeted with a chorus of boos.

“Everybody does have health care,” someone shouted from the audience. “Go to the hospital and get it!”

PricewaterhouseCoopers just released a study estimating that logic costs those of us with insurance an extra $14 billion a year.

"This is an inappropriate use of the ER," said Dee Swanson, president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. "You don't go to the ER for strep throat."

Since emergency rooms are legally obligated to treat all patients, Swanson said providers ultimately find ways to pass on the cost for treating the uninsured to other patients, such as to those who pay out-of-pocket for their medical care.


"Going to the doctor for strep throat would cost $65-$70. In the ER, it's $600 to $800," he said.

So, the Tea Party folks seem to advocate wasting money. To be fair, I suppose it's one, but based on the previous e-mail I was forwarded, it's fair to wonder how widespread the lack of sense is.

In all, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates we waste $1.2 trillion of our $2.2 trillion spend on health care. Around 20% of this waste has been directly created by the very private insurance companies the Tea Party people are defending:

"Every insurance company has its own forms," McGenney said. "Some practices spend 40% of their revenue filling out paperwork that has nothing to do with patient care. So much of this could be automated."

Dr. Jason Dees, a family doctor in a private practice based in New Albany, Miss., said his office often resubmits claims that have been "magically denied."

"That adds to our administrative fees, extends the payment cycle and hurts our cash flow," he said.

Dees also spends a lot of time getting "pre-certification" from insurers to approve higher-priced procedures such as MRIs. "We're already operating on paper-thin margins and this takes times away from our patients," he said.

There's that private rationing again. In all the rhetoric the Tea Party people throw out about the bureaucrat rationing care, there's no mention in their talking points about the corporate bureaucrat rationing care. They have no solution for it, because there's no accountability required by health insurance companies other than to their shareholders.

When there are problems with Medicare (ex. The Donut Hole), Congress is forced to deal with it or face the ire of their constituents. One would think the very Tea Party slamming the health care bill at town hall after town hall would prefer to have someone they could directly deal with as opposed to a faceless claims processor at an insurance company.

The problem with that statement is that it makes sense. As so much of the debate has proven so far, making sense is less important than scoring points for the press and donors. Obviously, there are legitimate concerns and questions about the proposed overhaul, but when people are circulating memos on how disrupt instead of engage in the conversation, we're not going to get anywhere.

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