I blog about free markets in medical care and transparent pricing.
A new legislator in D.C. once told me that our government was run on relationships. He told me that he had coached himself to say, “I like you, but don’t like your bill,” when asked to sign on to theft, Washington-style. Stiff-arming legislative colleagues was much more difficult than shunning lobbyist’s bribes. Having said that, however, do you think the GOP is surprised by the big insurance/hospital/pharma industry, long their political bedfellows, betraying them? Are the members of the GOP thinking, “..after all we have done for you through the years and you have defected to the democrat party?” Their favorite crony capitalists have “gone dark,” after all. I hope that’s what they are thinking, as retaliation is a possibility.
Only time will tell, but I think there is a more likely scenario. Out of one side of their mouth, the Republicans told us what a horrible piece of legislation the UCA (unaffordable care act) was, while with the other side, they were telling their old pals in the BIHP (big insurance/hospital/pharma) cartel that they knew this bill would be good for their business and understood their following a path that would make these companies unfathomably rich. The GOP was counting on having it both ways. The court’s ruling messed it all up. As Yoda would say,”gambled and lost they did.” Could I be right? Doesn’t it make sense that they would follow a path that wouldn’t alienate their old pals so when the power shifts they’re back in business?
I hope I’m wrong. You see, if the GOP meant it when their members said this was an abomination, their anger at this betrayal could take many forms. Legislation to change the tax code which discriminates against the individual purchase of health insurance would be a start. This gift given to the insurance companies by the GOP and maintained by them through the years(in spite of countless studies by think tanks showing how eliminating this would do more to help people with access to care issues than any other single act) is essential to maintain the obscene profiteering by these companies.
PPO claims repricing would almost disappear with tax fairness. Remember the PPO repricing scam? This is where insurance companies charge employer plans a percentage of the money they have “saved” them by repricing claims. A $20,000 claim/bill from a hospital gets “repriced” to $8000 and the white knight insurance company charges the employer plan a percentage of the fictitious “savings.” This provides a perverse incentive for the insurance company to select the most expensive facilities for the “network!” This scam disappears when individuals buy insurance, rather than have their employers buy it for them. This tax change, if the GOP would entertain it, would bring the cartel to their knees. If this doesn’t happen, you’ll know that it’s probably more business as usual in D.C., I’m afraid.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.
P.S. Uh oh. Just now, Rep. Tom Price, GA, was explaining on Fox News that the GOP would keep all of the popular parts of the UCA in any repeal effort. Oops. It’s looking like I’m right.