Printed letters, August 28, 2013

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Perhaps lost in the cacophony of real and fabricated consternation over implementation of “ObamaCare” – currently focused on individual/employer “mandates” and premiums for health insurance plans available on state and federal insurance “exchanges” – are its even longer-term benefits.

Because both health care providers and pharmaceutical companies have long operated as quasi-monopolies, they also enjoyed previously unchallenged pricing power in our profit-driven medical marketplace.

For example, the American Medical Association has effectively limited the supply of U.S.-trained physicians in order to protect its members’ enviable incomes, and hospitals routinely impose 1000+ % mark-ups on aspirins and saline solutions, so that a $600 artificial hip replacement ends-up costing $70,000 after being surgically implanted.

Likewise, the medical “arms race” prompts hospitals to invest in lavish expansions and plush private accommodations for their well-insured or (better yet) cash-paying patients – when the overall need for hospital beds is declining.  Similarly, even adjacent facilities are impelled to acquire the latest diagnostic devices in order to successfully compete – which requires that such equipment be paid for by maximizing the number of trusting patients whose insurers can be billed for its use, whether medically necessary or not.

Nevertheless, as of 2010, some 12,000 patients per year died from unnecessary surgeries in the U.S., 2.2 million suffered adverse reactions to in-hospital prescribed drugs (of whom 106,000 died), and the total number of medically-induced deaths neared 800,000.

The Affordable Care Act attempts to combat such excesses in two ways – transparency and “evidence-based medicine”.  Transparency is already being promoted by health insurers demanding both full disclosure and rational pricing; rigorous and systematic compilation of “evidence-based” results should improve quality – even as costs plummet.

Consequently, if “ObamaCare” can avoid a politically-induced “train wreck”, it will both prolong the actuarial viability of Medicare/Medicaid and lighten employers’ burden of providing health insurance coverage to employees.

Harry McDonald is right, but too polite—criticizing Repugnicans in general but not Scott Tipton in particular.

A veteran awaiting his prescription at our VA Medical Center opined that “they” should “shut down the government” to repeal “ObamaCare” – not realizing that doing so would close that facility, and/or not caring that the Affordable Care Act will provide millions with affordable access to health care—which he already enjoys, but takes for granted.

Now, as Gary Harmon reported Saturday (“Shutdown is unlikely, Tipton says”), the 3d C.D.’s “Tea Party” Representative—Congressman Scott Tipton – candidly admits (perhaps to the chagrin of his rabid supporters) that the irresponsible rhetoric of his cynical Repugnican “leadership” amounted to empty threats and partisan posturing.

Tipton also disingenuously asserts that “we do have two competing ideas:  one legislative body is intent on spending more and taxing more and regulating more”, the other . . .?

Actually, as the American public well-knows, the real “competition” is between leaders who offer constructive “ideas” to address tough problems and disingenuous “do nothing” lemmings like Tipton whose empty faux “ideas” are deliberately intended to make those problems worse.

Thus, Tipton would spend $30+ billion on “border security”, but would not reform our broken immigration system to help local growers and reduce the deficit by $173 billion over the next decade and $700 billion in the following decade.

Tipton voted to reward his cronies on the House Agriculture Committee with millions in farm subsidies, but opposes adequately funding Food Stamps and/or Head Start.

An admitted “climate change denier”, Tipton supports continuing subsidies to “big oil”, but opposes taxes and/or regulations on polluters that could fund infrastructure projects to “create jobs” and reduce unemployment.

And, like that sadly ill-informed veteran, Tipton would repeal “ObamaCare” and thereby revert to the “pre-existing condition” of ever-increasing insurance premiums and profit-driven health insurance company “death panels”.

November 2014 can’t come soon enough.

First of all I farmed this country for years, burning, well let’s just say you don’t know what you are talking about, breathing, farmers were here first, deal with it.How about chemicals to kill the weeds instead? I feel like yawl moved in and now it has to be your way or nothing, typical liberal, don’t work it, legislate it. As for chiding Republicans, even Massachusetts is thinking of repealing Romney care because it isn’t working. I read all 2700 and some pages of Obamacare online, it’s up to over 4300 now because of add ons, amendments, exceptions, and changes. Take the time to read the whole law, your eye will open, and you will see a whole long list of your freedoms restored. Da Svedanya commrade

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