Posts Tagged ‘competition’

Axelrod: Any Health Care ‘Reform’ Must Favor Government Over Market Solution

September 23, 2009

The health care reform debate has been pretty one-sided in much of the media coverage: Democrats are presented as wanting to reform a broken system; Republicans represent “the party of no” standing in the way of necessary reform.

Yet most Americans have been pretty consistent in their rejection of the Democrats’ proposals.

The media-generated narrative there has been that the “extreme right” has tainted the debate with distortions and lies.

As a result:

The second quarter 2009 cable ratings show Fox News prime-time ratings jumping an unheard of 34%. The prime-time segment includes Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”During otherwise normal viewing hours, Fox News averages 1.2 million viewers on average, more than twice as many viewers as CNN which shows an average of 598,000 viewers. As for MSNBC – Obama’s favorite TV channel – Fox’s ratings more than tripled MSNBC’s pitiful average of 392,000 viewers.

Maybe that has motivated CNN to get out of the Obama tank and actually get something out of their interviews besides serving as propaganda mouthpieces for the Democrat agenda.

In a recent interview, Wolf Blitzer pushed David Axelrod to come up with a reason why Democrats weren’t allowing health insurance companies to compete across state lines as a market-based means of increasing competition and thereby lowering costs and even increasing quality.  Axelrod whiffed horribly.

BLITZER: Including what they call the cooperative option, a series of health insurance cooperatives that wouldn’t be the public option, but would be some — something in between?

Is that — is he going to get into a detail like that and say he likes that idea?

AXELROD: He will acknowledge the fact that — that there is that idea. There’s the idea of putting a trigger on the public option so that it goes into effect at some date when it’s clear that — that a market is uncompetitive. There are a number of ideas.

But what is very important is that we have the kind of competition and choice that will help consumers. In many states in this country, there’s one insurer that dominates the entire market. In Alabama, one insured dominates 87 percent. In North Dakota, there’s one insurer that dominates…

BLITZER: So why not break down…

AXELROD: …the market almost completely.

BLITZER: Why not break down the state barriers and let all of these insurance companies compete nationally without having to simply focus in on a state by state basis?

AXELROD: Because we are trying to do this in a way that advances the — the interests of consumers without creating such disruption that it makes it difficult to…

BLITZER: Why would that be…

AXELROD: …to move forward.

BLITZER: …disruptive? If Blue Cross and Blue Shield or United Health Care or all of these big insurance companies, they don’t have to worry about just working in a state, they could just have the opportunity to compete in all 50 states?

AXELROD: But insurance is regulated at the — at this time, Wolf…

BLITZER: But you could change that. The president could propose…

AXELROD: …state by state.

BLITZER: The president could propose a law…

AXELROD: That is not…

BLITZER: …changing that.

AXELROD: That is not endemic to the kind of reforms that we’re proposing or that…

BLITZER: Why not?

AXELROD: …that…

BLITZER: Why not?

AXELROD: …we think — we’re proposing a package that we believe will bring that stability and security to people, it will help people get insurance, it will be — it will lower the costs and that can pass the Congress. And that has to be the test. We’re not into a symbolic expedition here. We’re trying to bring real relief to hardworking middle class people in this country. We believe the plan that we’ve outlined will do that.

BLITZER: Because I want to move on, but if the president wanted great competition — greater competition — he could say let’s change the law and let these health insurance companies compete nationally.

Axelrod begins to make his case by saying we need competition and choice.  Everyone would agree with that.  And then he moves to demonstrating that that ideal is not happening: for example, in Alabama and North Dakota, one insurer basically dominates the market.

And then Blitzer throws the monkey wrench into Axelrod’s entire argument.  He bites on the need for competition and access, and proposes a solution (GASP) from a free market perspective: why not allow insurance companies to operate in all 50 states?

Axelrod says that would be disruptive (because a massive government takeover via a ‘public option’ wouldn’t be, you see…).  And Blitzer explodes that simply by asking the question, “Why would it be disruptive?”

Axelrod has nothing.  Well, nothing but the assertion that “insurance is regulated at this time, Wolf.”

In other words, we can’t allow the private market to operate and solve the problem because the government is in the way.  And what we therefore need to fix all the problems the government has created is – of course – a whole lot more government.

The idea of getting the government out of the way is not even an option.  They are looking at this with walleyed tunnel vision.

These people are statists.  More, they are statolatrists; they literally worship the government, and will not even consider abandoning a big government solution as an article of faith.

David Axelrod said it himself.  We need competition and access in order to improve our health care system.  And many states don’t have such competition and access because of government regulations.  Alabama and North Dakota only have one insurance company; massive California only has six.  To anyone but a statist, the obvious solution would be to open up the market by reducing the government’s role and allowing insurance companies to compete with one another.

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

August 13, 2009

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.

An Opponent’s Courtside Guide To Sarah “Barracuda” Palin

September 6, 2008

“Al I ever really needed to know I learned on the basketball court,” Gov. Sarah Palin has said.

“‘I know this sounds hokey,” she told an interviewer in 2006, “but basketball was a life-changing experience for me.’ The problem for today’s feminists is that the life lessons Palin learned from basketball have made her their biggest nightmare.”

A woman who played against her on the basketball courts during their high school days has some unique and fascinating insights into the mindset of the woman that I believe will be our next Vice President.

Jessica Gavora, writing in an article titled, “Game Changer: Will the battle of 2008 turn out to have been won on the playing fields of Alaska?” has this to offer: (more…)