On Meet the Press, former Gov. Mitt Romney was asked about health care. The former Massachusetts governor, who is credited with getting health care in Massachusetts, is somehow seen as an expert on health care reform. Gov. Romney, when asked about health care reform, stated, "We have a model that worked. One state in America, my state, was able to put in place a plan that got everybody health insurance, and it did not require a public government insurance company. That's the last thing America needs. You know exactly what it is. President Obama, when he was campaigning, said he wanted a single payer system. That's would it would lead to. He would subsidize this over time, it would become larger and larger, drive the private options out of the healthcare industry. It would be just disastrous for health care in this country. And therefore the right way to proceed is to reform health care. That we can do, as we did it in Massachusetts, as Wyden-Bennett is proposing doing it at the national level. We can do it for the nation, we can get everybody insured, we can get the cost of health care down, but we don't have to have government insurance and government running health care to get that done."
I thought David Gregory was supposed to be the moderator of a policy debate. Instead, he acted as a pitch man for the Republican infomercial. Gregory had plenty of opportunities to ask a decent follow-up question but instead he asked none. Here's a few follow-up questions I would have asked:
- Gov., you stated that in Massachusetts you have a model that "worked." Exactly what you mean by "worked"? Massachusetts has a system that is spending 33% more on health care than the national average. Why is that?
- Why would driving private options out of the healthcare industry be disastrous for America?
- By expanding Medicare and Medicaid to cover the poorest people in Massachusetts haven't you selected the healthiest people to be covered by private health insurance?
- Aren't some of the very high profile hospitals in Massachusetts getting paid more to do the same procedures are smaller hospitals? Why is this? How does this help decrease costs?
- Finally, you said "we can get the cost of health care down" but in your state healthcare has done nothing but increase since the instituting of this reform program. Healthcare costs have increased since 2006 by 42%. How do you plan on controlling costs if you can't even do it in the small state of Massachusetts?
Universal health care can control costs using several mechanisms.
- Eliminate insurance costs. This saves $700 billion.
- Negotiate drug prices. Give pharmaceutical companies longer patent times so they have the ability to recuperate their R&D costs.
- Fund research to find the best medical options for the most common diseases which include congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and others.
- Pay primary care physicians and hospitals differently. Hospitals and primary care physicians should each take care of a population of patients. This eliminates the incentive to see patients over and over and over again. Instead, we should increase incentives to see patients once and get it right the first time.
- Truly look at medical products (wheelchairs, scooters, CT scanners and lab machines). The government working with physicians and other medical personnel should come up with guidelines for all of these devices. Who truly needs a scooter? Does every hospital need a CT scanner?
- Fix the immigration problem. By closing our borders, and only letting in people that we want in this country, we can decrease the strain on the emergency rooms across the country.
- Business saves. Businesses don't have to spend any money trying to figure out healthcare plans. Instead, they can use that money to increase salaries and to increase investment into their business.
- End of life. We have to begin to discuss end-of-life issues.