Health Care: Why ‘Public Option’ A One-Way Trip Off A Cliff

Alan Miller, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Systems, provides about as damning a diagnosis of the Democrat’s health care fiasco (I mean, “reform”).

If you don’t read anything else, at least read the section in red font:

AUGUST 12, 2009, 7:30 P.M. ET

Medicare For All Isn’t The Answer
My company ran a hospital in London. We don’t want to go the government route.

By ALAN B. MILLER

With Congress now in recess, the debate over health-care reform has moved to each member’s home district. The American people have rightly been asking elected officials many probing questions. While few Americans deny we need health-insurance reform (too many people lack adequate coverage), most believe we receive the best quality health care in the world and do not want to see it compromised.

Several advocacy groups and members of Congress want a single-payer insurance system, modeled after Medicare, to cover all Americans. They say Medicare works to provide health care to seniors, so government should extend the program to Americans of all ages. Others want to create a government-run plan, sometimes called a “public option,” which they say would compete with private insurance but would only be two steps away from a single-payer system.

There are more than 1,300 insurance companies competing for business without unneeded competition from a federal government plan. Backed by tax dollars, a government-run option could offer artificially low rates without regard to profitability, or even meeting operating expenses. That would push businesses to move employees to the public-option plan, ultimately putting private insurers out of business and leaving only a single-payer system run by the government.

A single-payer system may appear attractive to some. But as someone with more than 30 years of experience running a leading hospital company with international operations, I have firsthand knowledge of the hidden costs.

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

If hospitals had to rely solely on Medicare reimbursements for operating revenue, as would occur under a single-payer system, many hospitals would be forced to eliminate services, cut investments in advanced medical technology, reduce the number of nurses and other employees, and provide less care for the patients they serve. And with the government in control, Americans eventually will see rationing, the denial of high-priced drugs and sophisticated procedures, and long waits for care.

My company’s experience with health care in the United Kingdom illustrates the point. In the 1980s, we opened The London Independent Hospital to serve the private medical market in the U.K. The hospital had not been open long when representatives of a 1,000-bed government-run hospital located a short distance away approached us to borrow high-tech equipment and instruments. Because people were ill and needed procedures the government hospital could not provide, we provided that hospital with the help it needed. But that experience convinced me that under a single-payer system hospitals do not receive the money required to purchase advanced technology or provide quality care.

Advocates of a single-payer system say that hospitals would survive if they learned to operate more efficiently. While we are always looking for ways to improve efficiency, the economic conditions of the past few years have already forced most institutions to reduce expenses and increase efficiency as much as possible.

The reality is that Americans have come to expect the best health care in the world, and to provide that, hospitals must continue to invest in advanced medical technology, salaries for well-trained nurses and technicians, and state-of-the-art facilities. If hospitals were required to operate solely on revenue from a single-payer system, they could no longer afford to provide the care that Americans deserve.

Single-payer systems have proven to be wholly inadequate in Canada and the U.K. Most people in America are satisfied with the care they receive, so it is important that we take the time to fix only the parts of our system that need repair. Let’s not destroy a system that works well for most Americans. Let’s judiciously change only the areas in need.

Mr. Miller is chairman and CEO of Universal Health Services Inc.

The Democratts’ health plan won’t provide far better coverage for far less money.  What it will ultimately do is provide greatly INFERIOR coverage for far more money.

This isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat or a conservative or a liberal.  It is about deciding whether or not we want to put big government ideology over common sense.

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2 Responses to “Health Care: Why ‘Public Option’ A One-Way Trip Off A Cliff”

  1. jacksmith Says:

    Throw The Healthcare Obstructionist Out!

    More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 76% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (85% of democrats, 71% of independents, and 60% republicans). Basically everyone.

    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. And the most costly. Costing over twice as much as every other county. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. A trillion dollar taxpayer funded private health insurance bailout is all you really get, without a robust government-run public option available on day one. Co-OP’s ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION. They are a fraud being pushed by the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry that is KILLING YOU!

    YOU CANT HAVE AN INSURANCE MANDATE WITHOUT A ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION. MANDATING PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE AS YOUR ONLY CHOICE WOULD BE A DISASTER. AND UNETHICAL, CORRUPT, AND MORALLY REPUGNANT. AND PROBABLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS WELL.

    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will make you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. :-)

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class

    I REST MY CASE (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Wow. It’s not just every day you run into someone who has his facts so completely back asswards.

    A couple of polls:
    http://www.newsmax.com/headlines/obama_approval_poll/2009/08/13/247481.html

    http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/healthcare_obama_poll/2009/08/12/246969.html

    Let me cite an actual statistic from an actual poll (Rasmussen): 32 percent of voters surveyed favor a single-payer healthcare system, with the federal government providing coverage for everyone, but 57 percent said they oppose it.

    Most troubling for the Democrats, perhaps, is that 65 percent of independent voters now disapprove of Obama’s performance.

    Among the findings of the latest Rasmussen poll regarding elections coming up soonest:

    # Support for the healthcare reform plan proposed by Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low — just 42 percent favor the plan, while 53 percent oppose it.

    # In the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Bob McDonnell has a 9-point lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds — 47 percent of respondents said they would vote for McDonnell if the election were held today, 38 percent chose Deeds, and the rest would choose another candidate or are undecided.

    # In the New Jersey governor’s race, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine trails Republican Chris Christie by 13 percentage points.

    # In Pennsylvania, Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter trails Republican challenger Pat Toomey by 12 percentage points.

    Right now you’re beloved Democrats are in store for a major, major butt-kicking.

    But if you’re little bubble cocoon makes you happy, you just keep living in it.

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