Representative Baron Hill hosted an economic forum at IUS this morning. I've never really attended something like this and found it to be very educational.
I was most interested to hear why he was opposed to the current bill, the Children's Health Insurance Program. He actually supports the funding, but opposes the fact that they seem to what to fund it entirely from tobacco sales. Mr. Hill explained that if it were spread out amongst other groups he would vote for it. His main difficulty with the tobacco funding is because his region includes many tobacco farmers and there is an economic and cultural issue in addressing this.
I am sure that he's correct. It is also correct, however, that over the years many industries and farms have had to change their focus. Economics and culture can and does change.
It is painfully obvious that something needs to happen quickly with health care.
People and employers are playing higher premiums than ever before; and getting less service for this higher premiums.
Physicians are confronted with sky-rocketing costs of maintaining a practice. Doctors have to pay almost obscene premiums for malpractice insurance, purchase equipment and supplies, and maintain a staff. Many have half of their staff working exclusively on dealing with insurance companies. Doctors work long hours and are maxed out. Most do well, but most are not nearly as wealthy as they are perceived to be. Some specialists are, but most 'family doctors' work long hours and don't make nearly as much as many people presume.
One of the great prevailing myths that we have is that health insurance companies exist to provide coverage to patients by helping pay bills. Health insurance companies exist to make money for their stock holders. In order to have an income they must offer a product. It is, however, in the best interest of health insurance providers to pay out as little as they can.
Additionally, most health insurance providers offer 'sick care' but do not offer 'prevention care.' Money gets paid out to sick people but rarely for healthy people looking to remain so.
Meanwhile, health insurers have the highest profits ever. Pharmaceutical companies have their highest profits ever.
SERIOUS discussion needs to take place. We are in a national health care crisis. We are not GOING to be in one, we ARE in one now. The only thing it will do is to get worse.
I do not know the answer to the problem. I truly don't. I do know this. Any serious attempts at reform are going to be confronted by the insurance and pharmaceuticals in a huge way. We will be bombarded with ads telling us how great everything is and how the government is out to destroy health care as we know it. The will even bring out the 'socialized medicine boogey man' to frighten people and will tell you that if you need an MRI in Canada or England, the next available one is in 2010 (which is bogus, btw).
We have to have the ability to overlook the shrill commercials and the scare tactics of these industries and force our leaders to actually lead and help fix a badly broken system.
As for Mr. Hill, I'm not sure that I agree with his rationale, but I'm glad he was willing to stand before a group of people and honestly tell us what he thought and why he thought that.