Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Insurance Regulation versus Medical Care Reform

Today, for a few short hours, is an exciting moment for those who somehow hoped to end The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as it is known to both its friends and foes. Senator Ted Cruz is holding his mini-filibuster and it is the stuff of great television.  It is also, I'm told by politicians who know the inside scoop, doomed to failure.

In my opinion his filibuster is much worse.  It is a tragic waste of time, energy, enthusiasm and public opinion that needed to be aimed at amending and correcting the many, tragic, often horrific, errors of ObamaCare.  It isn't even possible to "defund" ObamaCare as Senator Cruz proposes and it is a mistake for him and the Republican controlled House to even try.

Repealing ObamaCare would be wonderful, but that's not possible either, so repair is the best option.

What I want to add to the discussion tonight is a simple and rather brilliant observation made on television this morning by my new favorite Congressman, Doctor Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. Yes, he is an M.D. and he served in Iraq prior to becoming a Congressperson.

Like me, Congressman Wenstrup sees the desperate need to provide medical services to the poor and to the uninsured.  He sees the need to provide full and complete care for the people who face major illnesses.  He has proposed fully thought out and intelligent programs for the government to provide such services.

The problem with ObamaCare, he wisely observed this morning, is that it will not accomplish any of these goals.  Not one! Why? Because ObamaCare isn't Health Care Reform, it's Insurance Regulation and over-regulation at that! 

Under ObamaCare the uninsured will still be uninsured and will still flood Emergency Rooms for services like diabetes care, or simple cases of flu, or child wellness vaccinations, all of which that Emergency Rooms are not equipped to handle.  It will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, needlessly.

Meanwhile, by providing totally unneeded and tragically misplaced Insurance regulation, the currently insured will lose their coverage and have it replaced by managed coverage that will almost uniformly change their doctors, hospitals and coverage costs.  

You can count on this for sure - Next year you will not be able to keep your insurance, your doctor or your hospital.  And you can count on  this,too - it's going to cost you personally, a lot more, more in premiums and more in deductibles.  And you may well be denied needed medical care as a bonus.

The answer was always deregulation not increased regulation of insurance.  Here's a much needed example, just one of many. Once we deregulated the Telephone companies we got better service, the long promised (but never delivered) picture phones (now called Facetime), and virtually free long distance.  And phone bills are a tiny fraction of the cost they were for your mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa).

Instead of over-regulating Insurance we need to completely deregulate it!  Get rid of every state board.  Allow full competition across state lines.  Costs will drop and coverage will improve.

Meanwhile the government should fund clinics for the uninsured and the poor instead of forcing them to misuse emergency rooms.  Finally states should administer "catastrophic care" programs for those facing major illness. This could be done for a tiny fraction of the cost of ObamaCare.  

That's the prescription from Dr. Wenstrup.  Let's stop filibustering and start fixing the problem.

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