From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fortenberry & Connealy in for a Healthcare checkup

Jeff Fortenberry and Matt Conealy's office call to about 50 area Doctors last night highlights their differences on healthcare.

Lawyers are the only ones getting Rich on Healthcare
Maintaining the same message as he did in the last debate Fortenberry laid it out in understandably direct and easy to understand terms; "In some areas it's easier to sue a doctor than to see a doctor," he said. "When doctors practice defensive medicine" - providing unnecessary care to avoid a lawsuit - "the entire health-care system suffers."

Calling it essential that patients be able to sue in cases of malpractice, Fortenberry chastised trial lawyers for using it as a venue to get rich.

Connealy stressed the need to deal with what he called the root causes of rising medical costs, such as high end-of-life care, rising drug costs and the overuse of expensive emergency rooms for routine medical issues.

What are those root causes Matt? Since it is nearly impossible for Doctors to operate out of the front room of their apartment over Miss Kitty's saloon and make house calls anymore, the cost can sometimes be staggering for those that have student loans to pay off as well.

Business 101

Not all Doctors start off with a few million in the bank and prestigious country club memberships and a debt free office to practice from. Property rental along with the associated insurance, telephone service, a staff nurse, receptionist, medical equipment rental costs, office and waiting room furniture, are just some of the costs that Doctors incur before they even see their first patient. I haven't even mentioned malpractice insurance yet.

All of these costs are fixed and re-accurring. Addittionally a doctor can only competantly see so many patients per day and that maximum number must be divided into the fixed costs this is the realistic number that a doctor must charge each patient in order to just break even each month.

If the doctors fledgling practice is in the big city, it may not take long for the physician to build and maintain a steady clientel of patients. Conversely a country doctor may not have the luxcery of a full schedule of patients. Yes property is like eggs, "cheaper in the country" but not that much cheaper, and all of the other costs are relatively the same as what the city doctor has to pay. So with out a steady stream of patients rural doctors have to charge more for their services just to keep the bills paid. The cost of malpractice insurance (driven up by trial lawyers scorched earth lawsuit philosophies) is a huge part of how much a doctor must charge to stay in business.

Taken over by the machines
Healthcare, like the Arnold movies has been taken over by the machines. If a doctor doesn't do this test, of that test, or use a certain machine to keep a patient alive, they could very well end up being sued for malpractice. These machines are not cheap and people want the doctors to do something, anything, to keep a loved one alive. This kind of medical service comes at a cost.

Over use of expensive emergency rooms for routine medical issues is definately a problem, but it is caused by the patients themselves. Why should hospitals be forced to adjust the costs of their emergency services just because Timmie needs a Winnie-the-Pooh band-aid from Doctor Dan? Unable to see their doctor at off hours, people seek out the only medical service available at two in the morning. Rather than putting ice on a sprained ankle and waiting until they can get in too see their regular doctor, they rush to the nearest emergency room.

And what kind of treatment do they get? Other than x-rays, they get an ice pack and an ACE wrap. Total cost? I have no idea. A couple hundred easy I'm sure. If they had done that (minus the X-rays) themselves and waited to see their doctor for the bone films, probably less than 5 bucks including the ice and ACE bandage.

Rising drug Prices
Before a drug can come on the market companies spend millions researching for something that will work. When they find it the government makes them spend a few million more to have it approved, before they have permission to sell it. There must be some government controls I guess or there would be nothing but Dr. Feelgood patented Cure All Snake Oil available.

When a company spends eight million for a pill that works and only 10% of the population contracts the particular milady it was designed for, how much should they charge?

This is what Connealy had to say about that; Connealy said the reforms throw money at drug companies. The nation needs to use its collective bargaining ability to reduce its costs, he said.

Oh yea Matt there are root causes alright but most of them are ones that are not even considered when accusing doctors and hospitals of over charging and price gouging. Do some doctors and hospitals overcharge? Oh yea I'm sure of it.

Medical Savings Accounts
Fortenberry believes in individual responsibility; On medical savings accounts -in which people contribute to separate accounts for their own care instead of to a general fund - Fortenberry said they showed promise. He noted that a third of those who have signed up for the accounts were previously uninsured. The program creates incentives for people to use health care prudently and still protects them from catastrophes, he said.

33% of the participants were previously uninsured, sounds like it makes sense to a lot of people. When it is their own money consumers are, generally, more cost concious about where and how it is spent. How is this a bad thing?

Connealy has a different take though: Connealy said the accounts would improve the lot for some at the expense of others. People who don't need care would favor accounts, leaving those who do to pay higher costs.
At first I wasn't sure what Connealy ment by this, then it hit me. SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.

The more you make the more you contribute to the general fund. If you make a lot of money and are healthy then you aren't using the share you put in. This allows much more to be spent on those that contribute little or none at all. In other words if your not going to be sick then you are a greedy so-and-so for daring to invest in a rainy day account in case you ever are.

Based on the way Medicaid and Medicare work now here is what Matt is saying, "You need pay into a government program so that your health care costs will be paid if you are ever sick, but the catch is, if you ever are sick you will have to pay for them yourself because you make to damn much money to qualify for these programs anyway."

On the subject of smoking, Matt "Robin Hood" Connealy had one more thing to say that seems to contradict everything he said about healthcare. Neither candidate supports a government ban on smoking with Connealy summing it up as; "You can't legislate the way we live. Americans don't want that."

See Robin ... er ...awww Matt really does get it, he just can't seem to resist the urge to legislate even more money from where ever he can get it. Your wallet, your savings account, your private medical fund, your mattress, makes no difference to Matt. He wants your money because he is convinced, just like Hillary and a host of others, that he knows how to spend it better than you do.

Speaking only for myself I find those assertions, by the politicians that make them, condescending and insulting.

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