Dear Editor —-
Having been in healthcare administration for almost 40 years, I was obviously interested in Mr. Mark Heinz’s opinion letter, which appeared in the July 7 edition of your newspaper, regarding his opinion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
I would certainly agree with his assertion, as I believe the majority of healthcare professionals would, that our healthcare system is broken. However, to suggest the reasons for its shortcomings should fall at the feet of the Republican Party is more than a little naïve and unfair. There is enough blame for the current state of affairs on both sides of the congressional aisle, and this problem did not suddenly appear during the eight years under former President George W. Bush.
In 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt ran for the presidency on the Progressive Party Ticket on the platform of endorsing national health insurance. In 1932, the Committee on the Cost of Medical Care issued a report stating that medical care had become too expensive for Americans. Obviously, both political parties have been “kicking this can down the road” for almost a hundred years.
Something certainly needs to be done to address the myriad of problems within the current healthcare delivery system, and there are some excellent and very much needed health insurance reforms within PPACA, but the total implementation of this legislation is misguided because, contrary to the opinions of its supporters, the legislation does nothing to fundamentally reform the healthcare delivery system.
All this act does is interject pages upon pages of new federal regulations upon overburdened healthcare providers, and potentially add 40 million people to an already broken system at tremendous additional cost which will ultimately be born primarily by the middle class. This action is comparable to adding more people to an overcrowded life raft that is leaking air. In doing so, no one will survive.
To fund this legislation, one of its provisions is to take $500 billion in Medicare reimbursement from health care providers. Additionally, an excise tax on medical devices is to be imposed, which will take additional millions of more dollars away from healthcare providers.
This act calls for expansion of the Medicaid program which in Kentucky, as with most states, is already woefully underfunded. Under PPACA, the federal government has committed to initially pick up 90 percent of the cost of this expansion, but Kentucky cannot adequately fund its current Medicaid program so to expect it to add additional Medicaid recipients will have to result in tax increases and/or further reductions in payments to healthcare providers to fund this expansion. This will push healthcare providers to a financial breaking point, which will result in the elimination of critical health care services and programs. Medicare and Medicaid payments are already so inadequate there is a real threat healthcare providers will have no alternative but to refuse to see these patients.
Our country currently spends close to $3 trillion annually on health care. This amount should be adequate to meet the healthcare needs of every American if it was spent effectively and efficiently. Anyone working in healthcare on a daily basis can tell you what is wrong with the healthcare delivery system and how it can be fixed, but because the federal government has no interest in getting to the root of the problem, PPACA will make a bad system worse and at an even higher cost to the average citizen of this country.
If this legislation is so good and so beneficial, why are unions, federal employees and Congress exempt from it? The answer is, unfortunately, too obvious. PPACA will bankrupt this country unless steps are first taken to change the way healthcare is delivered in this country and to address how it should be equitably financed.
Stephen L. Meredith
Contact name and phone number to call if needed: Steve Meredith 270.230.3301