South Florida Hospital News
Monday August 19, 2019
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October 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 4

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Health Care decisions, the 2008 Presidential Proposals Regarding Health Care Reform

Both presidential candidates presented health care proposals that address problems and present potential solutions. As you would expect, the Democrats generally support government oversight, while the Republicans support the free market system. Both parties clearly recognize the overall concerns of many Americans but have fundamental differences on how to address them.

The Republican platform address costs, litigation, concern over losing coverage, long term care and government bureaucracy as the primary problems. Medicare and Medicaid are mentioned mostly from a financial perspective. Itís clear any national initiative would become a bureaucracy that could lead to rationing, eliminating competition in the marketplace. Some recommendations presented include rewarding good providers, allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines or preventing frivolous law suits. Corporations throughout the U.S. are challenged everyday by escalating costs. This must be addressed as our system is essentially employer based. There is little discussed about the millions of uninsured in our country in this proposal.

The Democratic platform has mandated affordable and quality health care coverage for every American; there are more than 40 million uninsured. There are additional problems cited; cost shifting, litigation, profit orientation of stakeholders. Some solutions include focusing on wellness, tax subsidies to provide care for all, technology and prevention.

All noble causes but the primary question of is how to pay for it and who should pay remain unclear.

While both parties have some good ideas about how to address health care reform, their approaches are radically different. Similar ideas suggest reducing waste and increasing quality, which I certainly support.

The Republicans generally view healthcare reform from a purely financial perspective; this does not go far enough. Many critical factors such as quality, research and access are not adequately addressed.

The Democrats want to cover every American. While I support this goal, it is not realistic. A government controlled bureaucracy would cripple the health care system.

My suggestion for both parties - pick key areas that would benefit the entire population like removing excessive waste from millions of dollars spent by competing insurance consulting firms that recommend health plans to employers. Done every year, benefits shrink, cost shifting continues and businesses trying to compete in global markets are severely impacted by rising health care costs. The winner here is the insurance consultant or broker who gets a large commission or fee. How about the Managed Care industry? A former Managed Care CEO just settled his lawsuit and had to pay back $30 million in stock he was awarded under questionable circumstances. If you are concerned about his financial position, do not worry, he still has another $300 million in shares. I hope he sets aside some money to pay for long term care and a Medicare supplemental policy!

As a Professor and health care professional with twenty years of experience working in different facets of the health care industry, there is no question that the system needs to be improved, but not radically altered. What is the solution? First and foremost, while we have the greatest healthcare system in the world, we do have some serious problems to address. The escalating cost of health care and the increasing number of uninsured will continue to be the critical concerns. There must be bi-partisan support to make the important decisions moving forward regarding healthcare reform. Every stakeholder should have some responsibility in improving the system. Consumers need to focus on being more responsible for their health. Employers must be fiscally responsible in creating and managing health care programs for their employees. All providers should be rewarded and penalized based on outcomes. Both parties could work with the insurance and managed care industry to improve administrative bureaucracy that could save millions. Americans in government programs such as the VA, Medicaid, and Medicare should be provided excellent care and have the same access and quality the private sector receives.

Improved technology, reduced administrative costs, focus on wellness, fair competition, and reduced litigation are just a few areas that both parties could agree on. The savings from these initiatives could be the basis for an uninsured fund to begin to address two critical problems, escalating cost and an increased uninsured population.

Professor Jeff Ritter, Health Services Administration, Master of Science, Barry University, can be reached at (305) 899-3289 or jritter@mail.barry.edu.
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