Letter: Put health care choices in hands of patients | SteamboatToday.com
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Letter: Put health care choices in hands of patients

Affordable health care is a top issue for all Americans, not just Democrats. But there are big distinctions between what Democrats and Republicans propose as solutions.

A President Biden would implement “Bidencare,” which would add a public option that expands Medicaid and Medicare to those without private insurance. That would increase taxpayer funded health care by 24%, from 111 million to 138 million people, according to Census Bureau data. What does adding 27 million people to government-run health care look like?

One need look no further than the Veterans Affairs that runs the largest health care system in the country. The VA operates a $180 billion budget and employs 340,000 people. It provides service for 7 million veterans. In 2014, dozens of veterans in Phoenix, Arizona, died waiting for care. The tragedy was exacerbated by the discovery that VA administrators were falsifying wait times, sometimes as long as 115 days.

The Obama administration’s investigation reported that, “a corrosive (VA) culture has led to personnel problems across the Department that are seriously impacting morale and by extension, the timeliness of health care.” In this context, imagine what a 24% expansion of Medicare and Medicaid to a public option would look like.

Not only would this expansion strain existing health care resources, further extending already long wait times and diminishing the quality of care, it would drive employers away from providing private health coverage by driving up costs to compensate hospitals and health care professionals undercut by the public option. This is currently the case with Medicare and Medicaid.

As of 2017 in Colorado, Medicare and Medicaid pay about 70% of health care costs. This moves the additional burden to private insurance by an additional 30% to make up the difference. Extending the coverage of these government programs would make private insurance more costly, forcing many employers to end these benefits. Currently, 218 million Americans are covered by private health insurance.

How would Republicans fix the problem? Increase competition among health insurance and service providers by reducing the federal and state tax burden on the health industry. More importantly, eliminate unnecessary government regulations and mandates on health insurers and providers. Finally, allow interstate insurance portability.

Increased competition in the industry will drive down prices, drive up health care quality, expand availability to many more Americans who need it and put health care choices and decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors, not the government.

Pete Wood

Routt County Republican Central Committee chair


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