Rapid Fire

Grace-Marie Turner

So much is happening that the news can't wait until our regular Friday issue of Health Policy Matters. Here is a special interim report with links below:

The biggest news is the letter sent to Congress by 13 of the nation's leading health care delivery systems, including the Mayo Clinic. President Obama has traveled throughout the country extolling the virtues of these integrated care delivery systems, saying that they deliver better value at lower costs and should be a model for the rest of the nation.

The problem is, the legislation that already has passed two committees in the House could put them out of business. If the government creates its own health insurance plan paying at Medicare rates, as the administration and Congress propose, the organizations say the result will be "unsustainable for even the nation's most efficient, high quality providers, eventually driving them out of the market."

So the plan the president is proposing would put the very health plans he praises out of business. Back to the drawing board, folks. This plan is going nowhere.

And the American Medical Association is getting incredible push-back from its members after endorsing the aforementioned House bill. A number of state medical societies already are gearing up to protest and send their own letters of opposition.

I've had three op-eds published in two days, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, spoke at a tea party event in Charlottesville, and have been doing non-stop radio interviews. Links to all of these are below. Here are a few highlights:

  • In my post for National Review Online yesterday, "Critical Condition," I wrote that the nation's governors are joining the chorus of public officials and citizens voicing serious concerns about the costs and consequences of the health reform bills making their way through Congress. Democratic and Republican governors meeting in Mississippi said they fear the reform legislation would dump huge costs on the states at a time their coffers are running dry under the pressures of the recessionary economy.
  • In Sunday's New York Post, I wrote that President Obama's lofty and appeasing rhetoric is crashing against the rocks of reality as people read the details of the legislation, even among Democrats on Capitol Hill. In a piece entitled "Reality Bites Into President's Pipe Dreams," I wrote about the free-market alternatives being proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Tom Coburn, and others who provide an alternative and a patient-centered vision of reform.
  • In yesterday's New York Times, I wrote an invited blog post arguing that the best way to tax the rich is to cap the tax exclusion for employment-based health insurance in the current tax code. It gives the biggest tax break to those in the highest income tax brackets and little or nothing to those at the lower-end of the income scale. This is good policy that also would calm inflationary spending on health care.
  • I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday -- one of the most civil and productive hearings I have participated in in a long time. It seemed to me a turning point of sorts because the committee seemed genuinely interested in hearing more about the countless innovations in the private sector that are producing better value, increased quality of health insurance and health care, and moderating health costs. I argued that health reform legislation should build on the innovative ideas in the private sector where improvements in the delivery and financing of health care, transparency, and consumer choice are working.
  • A new group called the Jefferson Area Tea Party held its first in a series of forums last night, this one focusing on, of course, health care. Four savvy local physicians, one smart financial planner, and I held a panel discussion before an overflow crowd that, based upon audience reaction, is clearly frightened about the personal impact of health reform changes. These are citizens in action who want their voices heard.
  • And I've done a number of radio interviews, with hosts increasingly interested in our market-based alternative ideas, including the biggest drive-time station in New York City, WOR. Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel was on the John Gambling Show Monday saying that the House should pass the reform bill it has approved because the Republicans don't have any better ideas.

    With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, that is simply not true. Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Tom Coburn were the first to introduce comprehensive reform legislation this spring -- a bill that would move toward universal health coverage, make health insurance portable, and get costs under control, without turning our health sector over to government.

Articles and Interviews:

National Review Online: Governors Alarmed about Health-Reform Costs
New York Post: Reality Bites Into President's Pipe Dreams
The New York Times: Should the Rich Pay for the Uninsured? Tax Workers' Health Insurance
Senate Testimony: Competition in the Health Care Marketplace
Jefferson Area Tea Party
Interview: Joe Thomas in the Morning
Interview: The John Gambling Show
Interview: Brian Thomas Morning Show
Mayo Clinic Letter to Congressman Kind
AMA Backlash

Grace-Marie Turner is President of the Galen Institute
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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