Healthcare reform epilogue

Today, March 23, 2010, Health Care Reform legislation was signed into law. It really is health insurance reform. Health care reform will have to wait for another day. This does not diminish the great accomplishment made by Congress and the President. Rising health care costs threaten to bankrupt our country, our corporations, our businesses, and our people. Most individual bankruptcies are due to medical bills now. Still, in spite of the obvious advantages this legislation offers our country, there are those who continue to fight what is essentially the Republican health care reform plan from the 1990s.

There is talk of repeal legislation – a political ploy that has no chance of passage. There are the coming lawsuits that some states will file, in spite of the legal opinions that judge the likelihood of success nil, wasting taxpayer money. Is this country great for lawyers or what? Rush Limbaugh said he would leave the country if this passed. He is still here. Can we believe anything he says? All of this opposition is all about politics and not about the good of the country – which is just sad, further polarizing our country.

I previously blogged about the changes in health care delivery being made at Intermountain Health Care. They use protocols dictating care procedures where it is known what is effective. The result? At IHC costs are down and the outcomes for their patients is better. But doctors are resistant to use protocols. Also, there are too many unnecessary tests being done. They make for an expensive way to deliver health care.

I recently learned from Snowline Hospice’s medical director that general practitioners’ compensation has shrunk over the last 20 years, causing medical students to enter specialties where the pay is a lot higher. Of course, this is causing a shortage of general practitioners. The recently passed insurance reform will not address these and more issues. We still need health care reform.

Perhaps the next generation will take up the cause of health care reform. Maybe the catalyst will be a shortage of primary care physicians. Maybe the crushing increase in health care costs will cause the insurance companies to cry uncle after several declare bankruptcy. I am afraid that a crisis will create the next round of reforms. This will, of course, create a less than perfect solution. It would be much better to spend some thoughtful time in drafting helpful legislation for all Americans. That’s unlikely going to happen.

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