Archives

Blockchain Causing a Stir

Alternive-data-in-healthcare-Big-Data
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

Crypto-currency the future of EHR?

Doctor’s Lounge host Michael Koriwchak spent the hour of his latest show examining the trends in Health IT and the backbone of Bitcoin came up.

Bitcoin, the digital currency, rose to prominence from its start in 2009 built upon Blockchain encryption and records keeping technology.

Instead of a database that is centrally located and maintains the records (be they currency or health records), blockchain shares the data among a network of computers allowing users to add transactions (or information blocks) to the chain.

The information is kept secure through cryptography and distribution over a wide array of computers.  The implications of a decentralized network maintaining records and overcoming the ongoing challenges of interoperability have excited a flurry of articles and papers over the past six months.

This is precisely the type of innovation that explodes when the regulatory burden in removed and entrepreneurs are free to experiment and solve problems organically rather than by bureaucracy.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Meeting with HHS Secretary Price

ced0a418-9050-45dd-a87c-0d79a4c0a7d6
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

Key Principles in Shaping Health Care Policy the Focus

Years of sharing the vision for the sanctity of the doctor/patient relationship are paying off.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a doctor himself, invited Hal Scherz, M.D. of the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation to a meeting to discuss the state of health care and important reforms to prioritize over the coming months.

Secretary Price, then a Congressman from Georgia, was instrumental in the creation of our original incarnation as a 501(c)6 organization and remained a steadfast personal and public friend throughout his tenure in Congress.

Scherz and PriceThe meeting entailed many topics but focused on the regulatory burden on doctors and the necessity of freeing physicians to spend more time with patients.  These fiscal and regulatory burdens have driven far too many out of private practice altogether or into the arms of large medical systems.

Scherz explained the need for the protection of Direct Primary Care at the federal level to protect doctors from aggressive state insurance commissioners who seek to regulate the doctor/patient relationship as if the doctor is an insurance provider.

Additionally, Scherz emphasized the need to explicitly allow the use of HSA dollars in DPC relationships.  A simple practical change that would go far to extending actual care to patients at the ground level where most health issues can be resolved if addressed early.

After the meeting, Dr. Scherz released the following,

“The Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation is delighted to have the kind of leader at HHS who has been on the front lines of American medicine actually delivering care to patients combined with the practical legislative experience of a successful tenure in Congress. Most importantly, Secretary Price fully understands the underlying principles behind the sanctity and primacy of the doctor – patient relationship in health care.

We know of no one better equipped by professional experience and personal philosophy to be directing perhaps the largest and most influential entity in health care in America, the Department of Health and Human Services.”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

The GOP Fumble of Health Care Reform – Post Game Analysis

73e9ad14-00b8-44eb-9d95-4bebde269c32
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

If Washington politics was the NFL, then the GOP was the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Everything was set up for a clear win – majorities in Congress and a President who was itching to affix his signature to a bill that would send Obamacare to the scrap heap of history. But they fumbled the ball on the one yard line, and now the GOP is licking their wounds and everyone wants to know what the heck happened?

Most GOP supporters around the country are angry and confused because they expected more from this Congress. Others are furious that this bill did not sufficiently differ from Obamacare and are relieved that it failed. The Democrat supporters were against anything that attempted to undermine their beloved Obamacare, blind to the fact that it is imploding and soon will be no more, and ignorant regarding the ramifications.

It might be useful in the post-game analysis to try to explain some things and offer some perspective.

This entire affair can be better understood if certain concepts are introduced into the discussion- politics, strategy, and messaging.They often all run together, as was the case here.

Politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect. In the case of the GOP as opposed to the Democrats, politics is not a team sport, as much as we all wish that it was. There are too many people who want credit, and too many who will take their ball home if they don’t get their way.

One criticism of this bill was that it was crafted by leadership without input from other factions in the Republican House, like the Freedom Caucus or the more moderate Tuesday Group. Maybe that was a strategic error. Ultimately, these groups didn’t get what they wanted, so they sunk the bill.

Messaging has always been a problem for the GOP, and once again they did not disappoint. We heard repeatedly that this was a three-step process, but not enough time was spent explaining the ultimate vision of where we were heading with this process. America wanted specifics, not promises, so it is no wonder most everyone is confused. Only those of us who can identify the photos of all the Cabinet members understood what reconciliation meant and that Speaker Ryan was designing a bill that could be introduced into the Senate via this process.

It is easy being an armchair Monday morning quarterback, but perhaps there is a way to tie politics, strategy and messaging all together. What if the House created a bill that contained ALL of the elements of what we wanted to see in a repeal and replace package? What if they clarified to the American people exactly what the GOP vision of a health care plan would look like? This would be done knowing that the Senate would filibuster this bill and never let it come to the floor for a vote. But it would have put the Democrats on the defensive and it would have telegraphed to the American people what healthcare would look like after Part Three. It would have smoothed out the process of then following up with a reconciliation bill, making it easier to get that Part One passed.

There were more good things in the American Health Care Act than there were bad. It was the first time in history that an entitlement was being eliminated, and in this case it was two: Obamacare and the federal control of Medicaid, by giving it back to the states. Medicaid spending was being capped. The limit on HSA contributions nearly doubled. Tax equalization for individuals who purchase their own healthcare was established. And money was being allocated to states to re-establish high risk pools that were eliminated under Obamacare.

The GOP will get another chance to tackle healthcare reform, because Obamacare is failing and Americans are being hurt by it. They must stop being the opposition party and begin to govern. Let’s hope that the next shot that the GOP has at this is a controlled drive to the goal line and not another Hail Mary pass.

This originally appeared on Townhall.com.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Doctors Wish List for Health Care Reform

doctor-patient
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

The Issue:  Health care costs too much.  

It should not be this way because true cost is typically far less than current charges. 

The Reason:  There is no price transparency, so patients are disconnected from costs.

Healthcare is inexpensive to deliver. It is everything that gets between the patient and the doctor that drives up costs – the hospital, the lack of competition, the red tape that doctors have to deal with that increases their overhead and takes them away from their patients, the high cost of drugs, defensive medicine, the “handcuffs” placed on doctors which prevents them from innovating and creating value. 

The current trend has driven doctors out of business. Almost 65% now work for hospitals. Over 15% of medical school graduates will not see a patient in their career. Doctors are burning out and retiring much earlier than ever before. Private practice of medicine is in grave danger.

What can be done to help patients and doctors and to drive down costs?

1. Enforce & strengthen the Primary Care Enhancement Act – uncouple HSAs from insurance so patients can use it for Direct Primary Care. Clarify DPC as a delivery model and not a risk bearing entity

2. Remove anti-physician provisions from ACA (surgery centers, ACOs, IPAB)

3. Relax/repeal Stark laws

4. Fix the Medicare payment system which reimburses hospitals more for services than those delivered outside of the hospital

5. Repeal MACRA

6. Repeal HITECH – these 2 laws have created unnecessary and burdensome regulation and red tape that are putting doctors out of business

7. Promote charity care with tax incentives to providers

8. Protect doctors and patients from having to participate in treatments that violates their conscience

State level issues critical to the overall goals

9. Protect doctors from predatory specialty societies who have colluded with hospitals and insurance companies and force them to pay money to “maintain their certification” (MOC) as conditions to work treating patients

10. Repeal Certificate of Need (CON) laws to foster competition/innovation

11. Meaningful Tort Reform which would put an end to “defensive medicine”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

The CBO Score, Patients Losing Insurance Coverage and Other Myths of This Healthcare Debate

2017-03-16T151901Z_1_LYNXMPED2F1AL_RTROPTP_3_USA-CONGRESS-RYAN
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

There are problems with the debate over healthcare and “reforming” it. The first is that the Progressive Left has defined the terms under which we discuss healthcare. The second is that the GOP is terrible at messaging their solutions.

Examine the CBO claim that 24 million people will lose health insurance coverage under the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The only way that people lose their coverage is if the government is giving it to them. Let this sink in. That logic may be true for the greater than 50% of healthcare already being provided through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA and Indian Healthcare. It may even be the case for the entitlements given to individuals in the form of taxpayer subsidized payments to cover private healthcare premiums through the Obamacare exchanges. However, these exchanges are collapsing and insurance companies are walking away from them. They will soon not exist.

Stating that Americans will lose their healthcare coverage is “progressive speak.” Any plan that moves people into insurance programs that are controlled by patients and not the government moves the country further away from progressive nirvana, which is a single payer system. The AHCA does not result in patients losing coverage. It provides a choice. If patients choose not to participate, it is either because they are unwilling or unable. If the latter, it should be determined if it is because of cost, and if so, then making healthcare more affordable must be the goal.

The GOP needs to reclaim the narrative from the Left. They need to articulate more effectively that government needs to be taken out of healthcare and that people need to find ways to be less dependent upon it. When the government provides healthcare, they can take it away. They have done this previously and it will only get worse. Take for example prostate cancer screening. A government agency, the United States Preventative Services Task Force, downgraded it and Medicare no longer will pay for it. Another problem is that the quality and availability of the healthcare received through Medicaid or “skinny” insurance networks, as was the case in the Obamacare exchanges, is inferior to that which patients get if they, and not the government or 3rd party payers, are making the decisions.

Defending the AHCA can be difficult because it is not perfect and it’s complicated. But contrary to Obamacare, it promotes individual freedom over government control. Watching this come together is ugly and uncomfortable, but that’s how government operates. To use a medical analogy to describe the American healthcare system, the patient is dying from cancer and needs chemotherapy, which will be difficult to take but will ultimately allow him to get stronger and live a healthy life.

Once the cancer is removed in the healthcare system, efforts must be directed at making it stronger. This can be done by removing our dependence on insurance, which will actually make healthcare more affordable, as counterintuitive as that might appear.

The best way to accomplish this is via Direct Primary Care (DPC), which is a delivery model in which a patient pays a fixed amount monthly, often as little as $50, and receives almost unlimited access to THEIR regular doctor. This fee includes services that can be provided in the office, such as basic preventative and diagnostic testing and minor emergency procedures. Services that fall outside of this are available at facilities where steep cash discounts have been pre-negotiated– like a CT scan for $150 or an MRI for $400. Even visits to specialists are a fraction of what they would cost under an insurance model. Thus, DPC is considered “concierge care for the average Joe or Jane”.

One might ask why are we not seeing more DPC? In large part because insurance companies are threatened by this model and spend vast sums lobbying lawmakers to lump DPC in the same category as insurance. Consequently, as the current law stands, patients cannot use their Health Savings Accounts to pay for this.

The Primary Care Enhancement Act (HR365) makes the clarification that DPC is not a risk bearing entity, but a delivery model, and that HSA money should be able to be used to pay for this. Seventeen states have already passed legislation to protect DPC, but federal clarification would be a game changer. This should be strongly considered as an addition to the AHCA.

Healthcare costs are unsustainable, but healthcare is not expensive, as DPC has proven. Unless we embrace disruptive innovation to drive costs down, healthcare insurance premiums will not substantially decrease regardless of what market driven innovations are created. This may be the only opportunity to begin to effectively drive down the cost curve in healthcare and it would be a tragic mistake to let this slip away.

This was originally published at Townhall.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Physician leaders meet, set plans to address “crisis” in doctor-patient relationship

d4pc news-crop-u120
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

Group establishes Galen Doctors Forum to coordinate efforts

Washington, D.C., March 17, 2017 — Physician leaders and patient advocates met yesterday in a forum organized by the Galen Institute to raise awareness of what some called a “crisis” of unprecedented interference blocking doctors from being able to prescribe the treatments they believe are best for their patients. During the conference in Washington, D.C., they heard presentations by fellow physicians and by a noted patient representative on how cost-cutting measures by third-party payers in both private and government health care insurance plans are interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. Regulatory policies in government and cost-cutting measures in private plans are overwhelming doctors with paperwork and forcing them to go through multiple rounds of negotiations to justify their prescribing decisions to provide what they believe is the best care for their patients.

Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner commented, “As I travel the country, I have become increasingly concerned as doctors say that their hands are being tied by bureaucrats who second-guess their clinical decisions. At this critical moment in the health care debate, I believe policymakers need to hear the physician point of view.” She noted that, typically, physicians are so busy caring for patients that they do not have much opportunity to take part in discussions of health care policy. “For this reason, we decided to bring this group together to begin a national conversation about this crisis in the medical profession, to ensure that policymakers and patients alike understand the barriers doctors are facing as they attempt to deliver the best care possible to their patients.”

The keynote speaker at the conference, Dr. Seth Baum, said that it is vital that patients become aware that their physicians face great difficulty in prescribing the best innovative treatments for them. “Patients should not have to wonder who is deciding which medicines they take, their doctor, or their insurer,” Dr. Baum said. “In my case, I am forced to complete intricate, 17-page documents so that insurers will allow my patients access to lifesaving new cholesterol medications, only to see them turned down, repeatedly.” He pointed to “fail first” policies, which require doctors to prescribe older, cheaper medicines for patients until those patients “fail” on those drugs, before being allowed to prescribe breakthrough treatments that would be more effective. “These decisions are best made between doctor and patient, not by bureaucrats,” he added. “Insurance should be there to take the worry out of healthcare, not tie doctors and patients up in red tape.”

Another speaker at the conference, Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urologist, said that “Third-party interference has become endemic in the U.S. health care system, and is increasingly destructive to the patient-physician relationship. A recent survey by the Physician’s Foundation found that 53.9% of physicians surveyed claim that some of their decisions are compromised due to their current level of clinical autonomy. I am glad to take part in this discussion, and hope it will increase public awareness of the restrictions doctors encounter in their daily work.”

Meeting participants said that they were energized by the discussion, and pledged to continue to share experiences and ideas under the umbrella of a new Galen project, the Galen Doctors Forum. “We are excited to be able to provide this forum for physicians from a wide array of disciplines and geographical regions – people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to work together to improve conditions for current and future doctors who want only to practice medicine to the best of their ability,” Ms. Turner said. “We heard from many doctors who hope to join our discussion and be part of our efforts going forward. We plan to broaden our reach to develop policy recommendations and to educate the public on the need to put the doctor-patient relationship back at the center of the American health care system.”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Conned out of care

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-28-12-am
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

Imagine healthcare costs going down each year in the same way technology and retail costs do. Given congressional Republicans’ healthcare reform plan, this is no longer a dream scenario.

Based on the House Republicans’ plan released last week, the GOP plan will reduce healthcare costs in several ways. It offers refundable tax credits and expanded health savings accounts that encourage patients to become better shoppers for healthcare services. Rather than a one-size-fits-all federal standard for insurance, it encourages competition among insurance companies. And by focusing on patient (not Washington) customization of coverage, new and cheaper plans can be offered.

But there is still at least one piece of low-hanging, cost-saving fruit that the plan doesn’t address: certificate of need laws. Scrapping these government licenses required to provide care would increase healthcare supply, improve quality, and reduce price. Although these are state regulations, the federal government was responsible for their proliferation, and now must play a role their demise.

Some background: In 1974, Congress passed the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act, requiring states to implement CON requirements in order to receive funding through certain federal programs. Lawmakers believed that bureaucrats could dictate healthcare supply better than the market.

Roughly a decade later, it became clear that CONs failed on every measure and may have contributed to healthcare price inflation, so federal subsidies were stopped. But the hospital establishment, which enjoyed being protected from competition, has lobbied to keep them alive in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

In practice, CONs mean that healthcare entrepreneurs who want to open an MRI clinic, a surgery center, a nursing home, or a hospital must get government permission first. Even more outrageous is that often the state government committees that oversee approval of CONs are stacked with members of this same healthcare establishment. It’s cronyism in its purest form.

Unsurprisingly, data from the Kaufmann Foundation shows that states with CONs have significantly higher per capita healthcare costs than those without. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently published the results of their Healthcare Openness & Access Project, which measures access to healthcare in each state. As expected, states with CON laws ranked among the worst. Eliminating CONs would usher in a new supply of healthcare to bring down costs for small business and individual consumers.

States such as Oklahoma that do not have CONs have an environment where innovative, market-driven solutions can be implemented to drive down the cost of healthcare. The Surgery Center of Oklahoma, for instance, has a website where the cost for every procedure is posted. There are no hidden fees. The cost of surgery there is often 5 to 10 times less than the nearest competing hospital down the road, and in many cases, the surgeons are the same in both facilities. Medical tourism has reversed and patients can receive high quality care by board-certified surgeons for affordable prices right here in America. But only in states that permit it.

For patients who are asked to pick up a greater amount of their healthcare costs, such healthcare entrepreneurship allows them to become responsible consumers of resources. For businesses, it offers the opportunity to slash the single highest line item on their balance sheet — healthcare costs. Over 40 percent of businesses in America are self-insured; that is they pay the costs of care for their employees and do not rely on the third-party insurance system because it costs them too much. With CON repeal, more centers offering reduced cost services will open and business operators will see substantial savings.

Legislators need to begin to put their constituents ahead of the special interests who spend money to protect their turf. It is time for businesses to stand up to legislators and tell them so. There’s still time to make CON repeal part of federal healthcare reform.

 

This originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Letter To President Trump: You Have Missed The Best Resource In Fixing Health Care…Big Time!

Donald_Trump_Signs_The_Pledge_14
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

Dear President Trump,

I have been watching your activities over the first month of your presidency with great interest and admiration. I applaud you for the energy that you have brought to the office and your desire and willingness to speak with experts representing groups that you need on board to make America great again. So you might understand why I am both puzzled and disappointed that despite the fact that healthcare and Obamacare repeal are top tier issues, you have failed to bring in the true experts who might give you real insight into the problems and possible solutions- doctors in active medical practice.

The choice of Congressman Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services is excellent, because only someone with his background as a doctor, a legislator and a healthcare policy expert, can properly rehabilitate the healthcare system. He is the best possible person for this job. The fact that his confirmation was stalled for so long by Senator Ron Wyden and his Democratic colleagues, demonstrates the complexity of the problem. Politics aside, he and so many others in Congress are beholden to special interests that stand to lose a fortune if the changes necessary to return healthcare back to the patients are implemented. Insurance companies, for example, have made billions of dollars since the inception of Obamacare, thanks to changes that they had a hand in crafting. The industry has contributed over $600K to Senator Wyden’s campaigns over the last 5 years, and they have given the same or greater to other members of Congress. It is not surprising then, that a health care “solution” coming from Congress means a “replacement plan” that still allows the insurance companies to maintain their primacy in health care.

As the health care debate rages on, please remember that no one is actually discussing health care. The conversation is exclusively about insurance and coverage.

The real problem is that not a single replacement plan for Obamacare nor a single health care “expert” addresses the true cost of health care, which is obscene. There are many reasons why the actual cost of care is so high. Heading that list is the third party payer system, which is how the insurance industry took control of health care in the first place. This system disconnects patients and doctors from the true costs of care. There also exists a perverse payment system which pays more for care delivered in hospitals than for identical services outside of the hospital. Inasmuch as the hospital is the most expensive place in the health care delivery system to deliver care, it should come as no surprise that health care costs continue to soar. Moreover, Obamacare has created an environment where care is being driven into the hospitals while putting private practice doctors out of business. If you are the champion of small business as you claim, this should infuriate you.

I recognize that it is important to solve the insurance mess created by Obamacare, but addressing this alone will do very little to drive down costs, which were in large part the excuse for the creation of the misnamed, Affordable Care Act. The real key to driving down costs is to create an environment where patients can find value for their health care dollar and receive quality care. Quality cannot be measured by checking boxes, which is how Washington bureaucrats have addressed this issue. Health care is not expensive to provide. It only becomes so when doctors have to wade through red tape created by bureaucracy in order to take care of their patients. Or when the care delivered in hospitals costs five to 10 times the amount that it would cost at competing outpatient facilities such as the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, recently featured in a Time magazine article.

Eighty percent of health care can be delivered by primary care doctors. The fastest growing health care delivery model (except for hospital employment of doctors) is Direct Primary Care. This is “concierge medicine for the average Joe” because it costs less than a monthly cell phone bill and gives a patient their own doctor who will see them as often as necessary. The sickest patients can get the care that they currently are not receiving.

Although not a federal but a state issue, Certificate of Need laws restrict competition in the health care marketplace and exist because the federal government gave funding to states to adopt these laws. CON laws, which exist in 35 states, prevent the establishment of new facilities like surgery centers, hospitals, radiology or laboratory facilities without state approval. But before approval is granted, existing facilities must sign off, which of course never occurs. Health care costs will never come down until the playing field is leveled and the shackles are taken off of doctors who have the know-how to deliver better care for lower prices.

My hope and that of thousands of doctors, is that you will recognize that there are real health care experts taking care of your constituents, who know the problems better than the self-proclaimed experts. Please show them the same respect you have given to leaders in other industries and understand that the well-being of their patients is what drives them, and not allegiance to any special interests. Let us help you solve the real problems in health care.

This originally appeared on Townhall.com.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

D4PC responds to Aetna CEO Declaring Obamacare is in a Death Spiral

Mark_Bertolini
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

“Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini made headlines by declaring that Obamacare is in a death spiral. It is difficult to understand how this is a news worthy comment. The Obamacare death spiral began 2 years ago when state-operated healthcare exchanges began shutting down. It got worse last year when insurers began pulling out of many states, leaving some with a single insurer under Obamacare. Instead of reporting the obvious, the media should ask how Mr. Bertolini earned $27.9 million in 2015 in total compensation if Aetna was doing so badly as a result of Obamacare, or how his company posted $2.3 billion in earnings on $63 billion in revenues.” Hal Scherz MD, Founder- Docs 4 Patient Care.

This was posted in response to Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini recent comments in the Washington Post.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING

Reflections on the CNN Healthcare Debate

Screen_Shot_2017-02-07_at_9.13.29_PM
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn

The CNN healthcare debate between Senators Ted Cruz & Bernie Sanders on February 7 was dubbed a success by the network, ranking first in its cable time slot. With healthcare once again thrust into the headlines, and with two big personalities squaring off, this was certainly the marquee event, as was advertised. It turned out to be what one would have expected; a clash of ideologies, but a deeper look into what was said, and specifically what wasn’t, turned out to be most revealing.

Senator Sanders’ positions contained very little substance as he clung to his talking points which reflected his belief that healthcare was a right and that the government needed to provide it for everyone. Senator Cruz countered with several lines of attack, first giving an explanation regarding his interpretation of the definition of rights, maintaining that government giving something to individuals, in this case healthcare, did not constitute a right. He asked “why would we want to give the government MORE control over Americans’ healthcare, when they have done such a miserable job managing things up to this point?” Cruz concluded with the point that individuals are better at making healthcare decisions for themselves than the government. When the government does so, as in socialized countries, it leads to rationing- the government deciding what kind of care a patient may receive.

It was interesting that both men agreed that a big part of the problem stemmed from greed and excessive influence of special interests. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies were specifically singled out. Where they differed was their approach to solving this problem, retreating to their respective corners of the ring, with government control on one side versus a free market solution on the other.

The Senators missed the biggest problem in healthcare however, which is not surprising because everyone else has as well – the high cost of care. The healthcare reform debate has focused exclusively on insurance coverage and access. What plan will the GOP create to replace Obamacare? Although a market-based approach to healthcare insurance as is being offered by the GOP will result in substantial savings, the current cost of healthcare is unnecessarily high and will continue to be a strain on the American economy. There is a way out of this, but it does not appear to be on anyone’s radar.

The third major special interest, which went unmentioned in this debate is the hospital industry. Obamacare accelerated a trend which was to drive healthcare into the hospitals- the costliest place of delivery. It is folly to believe that taking an approach which focuses only on making insurance more affordable without doing something about the high costs of the healthcare itself, will have a significant impact on overall costs. Why should services be 5-10 times as expensive in the hospital as they would in free standing facilities? It defies logic.

There are many other factors that contribute to the high cost of healthcare that also need to be addressed. The third party payer system hides the true cost of healthcare, which really is not expensive when all of the overhead created by government and insurance bureaucracy is removed. Medical malpractice and frivolous lawsuits has created an adversarial relationship between doctors and patients giving rise to the practice of defensive medicine- performing an extra test or procedure, “just in case something rare could have been missed.” This practice results in annual costs between $200- $600 billion of mostly unnecessary spending that could be returned to patients.

The other major disappointment with this debate were the questions from the audience. CNN undoubtedly had an agenda in the selection of the questions and those chosen to ask them. It appeared that they wished to showcase typical “victims” – the ones who would lose their coverage if Obamacare is repealed. While this is understandably a concern for millions, and people are nervous, it might have been more illuminating to hear questions about other problems that are damaging our healthcare system and how Washington plans to deal with these issues. CNN squandered an opportunity to bring a doctor into the debate; one who was sitting in the first row and happens to be an expert in healthcare information technology and its problems. He was prepared with an important and insightful question but CNN thought otherwise.

In this latest round of the healthcare fight in America, a prudent person would realize that the so-called “experts” on healthcare- the policy wonks, the politicians, the healthcare economists, didn’t do so well the last time. To go back to what Senator Cruz said in this debate- why would we want to give them another chance at it? It is time to hear from the real experts in healthcare; those who have had to deal with the misery created by these “faux experts.” It is astounding how once again, the medical community has been excluded from this debate. CNN had a chance to begin to change the conversation by bringing a doctor into the discussion, but chose not to. They simply blew it.

This was originally posted on Townhall.com.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn
CONTINUE READING