Jul 19, 2009

HR 3200 will cause medical care to cost more

(Guest post by Ken Mattox, MD, professor and vice chairman of surgery in the General Surgery Division of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition, he serves as Chief of the Surgery Service and Chief of Staff at Ben Taub General Hospital.)

See the editorial [Editor: column from David Broder] from today's Houston Chronicle. This AM (Sunday) Meet the Press (NBC) supported the same observation.

The current House of Representatives proposed bill will INCREASE the cost of health care, NOT address the 17-22 million of the 47 million uninsured that are undocumented aliens, and will increase the current problems with Medicare. This bill also gives increased money and independence to nurses and others for suggested independent practice. This bill does not address the cost drivers like futility, duplicate or unnecessary ordering of tests, nor the 50 percent of the health care costs that are administrative, hassle, and tort focused. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf stated on Thursday that this bill would break the budget. I heard the President and others state that the overriding force to reform health care is to reduce costs and to address the economics to the benefit of all. HR 3200 does not do this, it does just the opposite. I do not understand.

The Texas Delegation to the AMA and others have also joined the AMA in making some overriding governing principles: QUALITY AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE, ADDRESS THE COSTS, ACCESS. We are even working on a Texas plan via the TMA. It seems to me that the senior congressional economic advisor as well as this morning's talk shows and the Chronicle editorial underscore that the current approach via HR 3200 is NOT addressing either the president's own priorities as stated to the AMA, nor the AMA's nor the TMA's overriding governing principles.

I for one do not know what HR 3200 really does address favorably. Yes, I did down load it and I did read it.

I would plead that as we create a bill in Congress to address Quality Care, Affordability, Access, etc, that we really address these issues. I am concerned that some of our professional organizations, such as my own American College of Surgeons, endorsed HR3200, even before it was out in any form to read, and did not add the overriding moral and governing principles (as did the AMA and the TMA) that are necessary for success and continuance of what is sacred in the ability to care for patients.

I totally agree that economically status quo is not an option, but this bill does not address, nor solve, the current economic death spiral. Those who are at the table writing legislation still seem afraid to address the root causes. I am proud to say that TMA is addressing many of the root causes while preserving the patient physician relationship.

HR 3200 seem to only INCREASE the cost of government AND forms thousands of NEW bureaucratic commissions to review just how we practice medicine and create even more hassle.

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