Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | Healthcare Reform | Medicare | progressive | cms | alexander

Don't Let Pols Use Coronavirus to Seize Your Healthcare

senator lamar alexander of tennessee
Top government health officials testify before U.S. Senate Hearing on coronavirus. March 3, 2020 - Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., delivered remarks delivers during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Thursday, 19 March 2020 02:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Early in the Obama administration, White House Chief of Staff and Chicago political heavy Rahm Emanuel said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste . . . it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

In the never-ending battle to hijack our healthcare system, Democrats are seizing on the coronavirus panic to do just that.

Democrats (and alas some Republicans) have threatened to ram medical price controls through in an emergency coronavirus-relief bill. At a time when our healthcare system is so overtaxed that we’ve had to mobilize the Navy to help, the plan is to get the government’s claws into that system more than they already are.

Conservative and medical groups are pushing back, and they need all the help they can get.

Very recently, two dozen conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the Club for Growth, and Heritage Action, sent a letter to Congress warning the body to reject any effort to impose price controls, which "would be particularly devastating at a time of great stress for our nation’s patients and healthcare providers."

The same day, a coalition of health care provider groups, including the National Association of ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) and the American College of Physicians, sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging the agency to remove penalties and reporting requirements for value-based payment contracts as a result of the coronavirus.

The doctor groups know the coronavirus will drive up Medicare beneficiary spending, which will affect benchmarks used to determine savings and losses in alternative payment models

Doctors and other providers are on the front lines of this current healthcare crisis — as well as of course the day-to-day efforts of trying to keep a nation of 350 million healthy.

Capitalizing on the current frenzy to disrupt their pricing models will have zero positive outcome in either the short or long term.

The particular issue that Democrats want to get their hands on, potentially using the coronavirus as a very convenient excuse, is surprise medical bills (SMBs).

SMBs arise when an insured individual receives treatment from an out-of-network provider when they thought they were otherwise in-network, like if your insurance covers your surgeon but not the anesthesiologist. SMBs enrich insurance companies, because they don’t have to pay out benefits, but it hurts patients, doctors, hospitals, and others.

SMB is an issue Democrats have drooled over for a long time, and unfortunately U.S. Senate Health Committee Chair Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is helping them — trying to ramrod some bad legislation of his through the coronavirus relief package.

Such legislation would give the government the ability to impose price controls on our already byzantine health care system, something opposed by doctors, some Democrats, any rational-thinking economist.

Economics 101: an economy has an equilibrium, where the market sets prices based on the demand for its supply. When supply is high, the price goes down; when supply is low, the price goes up.

But if an activist government decides that prices are too high — even on something that is super important like healthcare — and enforces price controls the result is shortages, long waits, price gouging, and even black markets.

Fatuously insisting that healthcare is a "human right" will not change this most basic of economic principles, and fomenting panic at a time like this will only cause more stress on our already overburdened doctors, nurses, and other healers.

The only group price controls will help is insurance companies, a group which is already making record profits thanks to a healthcare reform crafted to benefit the insurance companies: Obamacare. Forcing Americans to buy high-cost insurance plans is perfect for insurers because they get to craft coverage areas while Americans are stuck with high deductibles and weak coverage.

When President Trump assumed office, premiums had doubled in states using HealthCare.gov compared to 2013, the year before Obamacare took effect.

Average premiums went up by another 26 percent in 2018.

Price controls would only reward insurance companies even more — which is why they’re spending approximately $74 million per year on an army of lobbyists.

The goal of so-called progressive efforts to extend healthcare to all, no matter how wondrous that dream may sound, is not to improve the quality and quantity of medicine in America.

It’s simply to seize power.

The coronavirus is a crisis they don’t want to let go to waste.

Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The goal of so-called progressive efforts to extend healthcare to all, no matter how wondrous that dream may sound, is not to improve the quality and quantity of medicine in America. It’s simply to seize power.
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Thursday, 19 March 2020 02:31 PM
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