Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two health care presentations ...

Barack Obama tried to take his case on health care/insurance reform to the American public today in a town hall style New Hampshire. Frankly now that everyone is talking about how the angry public at these town hall meetings might be Republican agitators instead of people with a genuine concern, I think some of the steam might already have been let out of the opposition to health care/insurance reform. Obama’s town hall was apparently pretty civil inside, although protestors on both sides yelled at each other outside.

Arlen Specter also had a town hall meeting in Harrisburg this morning, with a somewhat different feel. When he took questions, he got down and stood a couple of feet away from the questioners. Sure enough, they screamed at him (so much so that security moved in, and Specter had to wave them away). Say what you want about Arlen, he has some toughness left in him; he didn’t flinch as questioner after questioner yelled at him up close and personal. Apparently after maybe thirty minutes people stopped yelling, but I guess passions still ran high.

Does anyone really think that we should leave health care alone? The costs have been going up for as long as I can remember. Not that a solution will be easy. I mean, we can certainly look at what hospitals with low rates of infection and medical mistakes do, and try to copy them. We can do things like reduce legal awards for malpractice, but doctors who make two mistakes (that rise to the level of malpractice) need to be moved into other non-patient care areas of medicine. No more cover ups by medical societies. Getting patient records on to computers would also help in improving care, and possibly avoiding costly mistakes.

But past that, as long as insurance companies are the primary delivery system for health care payment and reimbursement, the system will have perverse incentives and continue to be a case of market failure.

Yet the Republicans, paid heavily by health industry lobbyists, are trying to block any meaningful reform. And people are buying the propaganda. Just ask, which Republicans are getting rid of their government health care in favor of a private plan?

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