Stanley Feld M.D. FACP,MACE
We have seen how inadequate the standards for eligibility for Medicaid are. The definition of poverty is inappropriate. The Bush administration talks a good game about our obligation to help the less fortunate. However his actions toward the less fortunate are not consistent with his words. Medicaid is a single party payer with poor benefits for patients and poor reimbursement for providers.
President Bush has vetoed the S-CHIP proposal twice. “The president had promised to veto it, saying the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far from its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage.”
“Bush argued that the congressional plan would be a move toward socialized medicine by expanding the program to higher-income families.”
On one level the President is correct. It will expand another inefficient and ineffective bureaucracy (Medicaid). Medicaid needs to be restructured not expanded. The decisions for medical care will not be in the hands of the patients or the physician.
On the other hand people who can not afford healthcare insurance will not have healthcare coverage in are present system. The solution is not to expand the present single party payer system. The solution is to construct an effective system.
The basic principle in my concept of Repairing the Healthcare System is making patient responsible for their healthcare and healthcare dollar. A proactive consumer will create the market force environment needed to compete for the consumers’ healthcare dollar. This can be accomplished with my Ideal Medical Savings Account for employers, self employed and subsided needy. Our less fortunate citizens can be subsided on a sliding scale using a realistic means test.
Everyone would own his healthcare dollar and be responsible for its wise use. If people avoided the complications of chronic diseases they would receive a financial reward in addition to the reward of good health. The mechanisms for education and chronic disease management have to be supported financially. Financial incentives are effective.
Instead, neither President Bush nor his administration is thinking. They are not coordinating some of the good ideas for the repair of the system. He is focused on the enemy (the Democrats) and their attempt to sneak socialized medicine in through the back door.
S-Chip and Medicaid could be set up to avoid socialized medicine. Presently the government is the single party payer for S-Chip and Medicaid.
The new system should focus on insurance companies competing the patients’ healthcare dollar. The government should make the rules and then get out of the way. The government should enforce the rules in favor of the primary stakeholder the patient.
This is should be the focus of the presidential policy debates and not the issue that President Bush is heartless. The present bureaucratic institutions are heartless as demonstrated by the story of Moises and Medicaid. .
On the other hand, governors of many states are starting to understand that there has to be some effective benefits for the hard working less fortunate. We have seen the effort Mayor Bloomberg is making to redefine poverty to distribute aid more fairly and efficiently in New York City. We have seen the attempt that the State of Indiana is making. These are innovative. The problem in Indiana is the program is imbedded in the present system.
Rather than encouraging the development of these ideas the Bush administration seems to be doing everything it can to discourage innovation much to my disappointment.
“ The Bush administration is imposing restrictions on the ability of states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, in an effort to prevent them from offering coverage to families of modest incomes who, the administration argues, may have access to private health insurance.”
“The restrictions mirror those the administration placed on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in August after states tried to broaden eligibility for it as well.”
Until now, states had generally been free to set their own Medicaid eligibility criteria.
The federal government is ignoring the threat the less fortunate pose to the local communities. The Bush administration should be able recognize the threat of terrorist activities and crime by the less fortunate from incidents the administration has seen worldwide.
“On Dec. 20, the Bush administration rejected a proposal by Ohio to expand its Medicaid program to cover 35,000 more children. Ohio now offers Medicaid to children with family incomes up to twice the poverty level, or about $41,000 a year for a family of four. The state had proposed increasing the limit to three times the poverty level, to about $62,000.”
As I have said over and over again the only thing that is going to be able to fix the system is consumer demand. In this Primary Season for presidential nominees we hear how powerful we the voters are. We should be demanding and debating the details of how they are going to fix the healthcare system rather than judging their sound bites
The Clinton and Obama race is fun to watch. Both candidates have created a smoke screen obscuring the eventual outcome of their pronounced policy on healthcare. Their resulting socialized medical system will intensify the dysfunction and cost of our healthcare systems.