Letter to the Editor: Health Care Brawl not over

"Health Care Brawl," the article written by Mike Gallagher was a good article detailing the positive aspects of the new health care legislation. It was great to see the Collinwood Observer tackle the contentious issue of health care reform.

There were a few points mentioned in the article which need to be amplified and commented upon.

For example, the article mentions that the new legislation fails to address “Malpractice Reform” as part of “cost saving measures”.

First, there are no definitive studies linking Malpractice Reform with cost containment. Ohio’s Republican insurance-backed majorities in the House and Senate rammed through so-called “Malpractice Reform” in the form of “caps on damages” years ago and, just like in all the other states passing such measures, insurance rates have continued to rise. The only effect it had was to cheat seriously injured people out of obtaining appropriate justice.

Secondly, it has always been advanced by insurance-backed interest groups that doctors are being forced to practice “defensive” medicine by ordering unnecessary and expensive tests. There is no question that doctors are ordering such tests, but it has little to do with practicing “defensive” medicine and has much more to do with practicing “ring up the bill” medicine.

If you look behind any study finding unnecessary tests, you will also find that in virtually all cases, the patient had sufficient insurance coverage to cover the procedures. Rarely will you find that doctors have ordered the extra procedures if the patient is poor, or had no insurance coverage. In other words, the tests are not ordered unless there is an assurance of payment.

Since any person, poor, insured or uninsured, can make malpractice claims against a physician, the amount of unnecessary procedures for both groups, uninsured and insured, should be exactly the same. It isn’t, so the only logical explanation is that extra procedures are ordered to enhance the healthcare facility’s bottom-line profits.

The healthcare industry has said to hell with consumers and hiked premiums -- by as much as 39% in the case of Anthem Blue Cross in California. This has always been the pattern. According to congressional investigators, over a two-year period, Anthem's parent company, WellPoint spent more than $27 million dollars for executive retreats at luxury resorts. And in 2008, WellPoint paid 39 of its executives more than a million dollars each. The health insurance industry lives by the motto: “Profit before patients.”

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 10:58 AM, 05.06.2010