On June 16th around the country, legislation to reform health care hit the floor. The reform boasts of a public, universal health care plan that will create equal opportunities and access to health care for the citizens of our nation. As the public's perception of the insurance industry has rapidly declined, the idea of changing the system has steadily gained popularity. We, however, believe there are some common misconceptions that should be addressed before such legislation (Kennedy Health Care Reform) is enacted.
Three things to consider before approving such legislation:
The new legislation would create a system easily comparable to that of the Medicare program available to some citizens today. Currently, Medicare serves as a program for eligible individuals (and families) with low incomes. The state and federal government fund Medicare. Likewise, American citizens, through taxes, fund the state and federal government. Citizens of the United States fund Medicare through tax dollars.
Q: If everyone in the United States is put on a universal program, mimicking that of Medicare, where do you believe the money to fund the program will come from?
Under the proposed legislation, Americans will be taxed at a much higher rate than they are currently paying, and, every citizen will be required to pay equal amounts in taxes. The healthy will not receive tax breaks for their good health nor will the unhealthy be required to pay more for their health needs. Likewise, people who are struggling to make ends meet will pay the same amount in taxes as those whose bank accounts are flourishing.
Doctors limit the amount of patients they see who are currently on Medicare. According to a 2007 survey by the American Medical Association, 60% of doctors say they limit the number of new Medicare patients they see. Why? Because reimbursement policies only require that partial repayments are made. These repayments are 71% to hospitals and 81% to doctors (Lewin Group, 2009). This information is significant because if legislation is passed that creates a public plan, the reimbursement rates will be similar to those of Medicare. An estimated 119 million people will shift from private insurance to the public plan (Lewin Group, 2009), putting hospitals and doctors at risk of earning huge amounts of income.
A public plan will not create efficiency. Each year, Medicare loses $60 billion dollars in fraud alone. The federal government is not a model for health care efficiency, they've never proven to be.
The need for health care reform is obvious. We urge anyone interested in learning more about their options to research the legislation from all angles. For more information on health care reform, visit the Coach website (Coalition on Advocacy, Community, and Health).
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