As physicians, my colleagues and I have known for years that health care reform was needed. Yet, the impersonal, bureaucratic and misdirected solutions of the federal government and big business are not the answer to providing more complete coverage. Better approaches to fixing our broken system include reducing the power that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and other government offices have in our profession. When an inefficient and bureaucratic government invades any industry, and inefficient and more costly product is the end result. My colleagues and I must spend too much time taking care of paper work, and more time on paperwork means less time with our patients.
* The current litigious environment unfairly pressures physicians to prescribe unnecessary and expensive care –– termed “Defensive Medicine” to avoid malpractice suits. Estimates suggest that this approach alone increases the cost of medicine in the United States by $200 billion annually.
* The practice of medicine is a science and art that provides care to individuals that are unique and complex. The basic relationship of physician and patient is core to medicine. Any discussion on health care reform must begin with these two parties and move out from there to include hospitals, third-party payers, and lastly government, not the other way around.
* Our older population is presently dependent upon Medicare; millions of others are counting on Medicare to be there for them in the future. We must look at this current problem seriously and find ways to keep this promise made by our country to our parents and grandparents. With Medicare approaching bankruptcy in 2017, we do not have much time.
* Allowing all medical expenses to be tax deductible.
* Allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines.
* Allowing doctors to deduct the cost of the care they give to the uninsured.
* Allowing individuals the same ability to purchase insurance with pretax dollars like businesses.
* Allowing everyone the ability to open a Health Savings Account, no matter what type of insurance plan they are under.
* Allowing doctors the ability to negotiate collectively with insurance companies to drive down the cost of medical care.
* Tort reform. This step will decrease the practice of defensive medicine.
* Repealing government-imposed requirements on what insurance companies must cover.
* A more free market approach to reducing medical costs that empowers the consumer, not the federal government.
We can implement these common-sense approaches very easily, without endangering our current system of medical care, which is second to none in the world, and realize cost savings immediately as we focus on longterm solutions to the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid.