Friday, November 30, 2012

I debated Alan Grayson...well, sort of...

Earlier this month, I debated the once-and-future Congressman (sigh...) Alan Grayson on Fox 35 Orlando regarding whether ObamaCare was at fault for announced layoffs at Orlando Regional Healthcare Systems. 

Well, OK, I didn't really debate him in person. But we were both invited to comment on the story and I believe my analysis up very well against Grayson's predictable talking points: | Mike Synan | Is 'Obamacare' to blame for hospital system's job cuts?
Orlando Regional Healthcare systems announced it will cut two to three percent of [its] work force, beginning immediately, amounting to a reduction of 300 to 400 workers.
The hospital says all areas of operation will be affected including Orlando Regional Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, plus Winnie and Arnold Palmer Hospitals for children and babies.  In the company's press release, they cite a 20 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements, and also blame "additional reforms that take effect over the next few years."
Conservative blogger Sarah Rumpf, of, says that line says Obamacare is to blame.  
"When you are trying to artificially control medical prices and artificially lowering the reimbursement rates, you don't actually lower the cost of medical care," she said. 
Rumpf likens the Medicaid cuts to owning a deli.
"If you had a sandwich shop, and you were selling your sandwiches for 5 dollars, and the government came along and said 'no you're only allowed to sell your sandwiches for two dollars apiece', you would have to change your policies. You might have to lay people off, you might have to use cheaper bread."

Read the rest of the article here (includes video interviews with me and Grayson).

As expected, Grayson misses the point.

The issue here isn't that delaying medical treatment until it's an emergency makes health care both more expensive and less likely to result in a positive outcome (of course it does). Grayson laughs that he "[doesn't] think people are going to stop getting sick anytime  soon." And that's exactly my point: people aren't going to stop getting sick (in fact, as the baby boomers retire, we'll have increased demands on our health care systems), so we need to be honest about the costs to provide health care to them,

What's happening is that the Democrats are pretending that adding more people to the Medicare/Medicaid system will mean that more people have access to health care, while simultaneously pretending that lowering the reimbursement rate for medical providers will have no adverse consequences.

For years, the Medicare and Medicaid programs have reimbursed medical providers at a lower rate - a much lower rate - than private insurance carriers. Add in the staff expense of dealing with complicated paperwork and government bureaucracies, and many doctors end up choosing to not accept Medicare/Medicaid patients. 

In other words, these government programs that are supposed to be helping the elderly and the poor - those who are most likely to desperately need good, quality health care - make it harder for them to actually get access to that health care. If people can't get to a general practitioner easily and affordably, that's when they end up waiting until a health problem is an emergency and going to the emergency room.

ObamaCare only makes this problem worse. By further lowering the already bottom-barrel reimbursement rates, the number of medical providers who are able or willing to treat Medicare/Medicaid patients will be reduced even more, resulting in less doctors treating patients early, before their problems become emergencies, and leading to more emergency room hospitals who have cut their staff because they too are under the pressure of reduced reimbursement rates.

If Congressman-elect Grayson would like to debate me in person any time on this topic or any other, I'm in! Have your people call my people. (Who am I kidding...I don't have people. Have your people email me at sarahrumpf at gmail dot com.)

Follow me on Twitter at @rumpfshaker

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