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    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    Letters: A group of healthcare experts (aka academics) has written a letter to the President, calling him a liar:

    Dear Mr. President:

    We were among the signers of the statement issued last week by the Health Care Finance Group ( http://www.sunya.net/healthfinance.html). That statement challenged the claim, frequently presented in your speeches and campaign advertising, that your opponent’s health care proposals would amount to a “government take-over” of the health care system and result in “government-run health care.”

    The nonpartisan statement, which neither endorses nor rejects any particular approach to health care policy, has been signed by ninety-five of the nation’s leading experts in health policy and health care finance. It makes clear that, whatever the merits of Senator Kerry’s proposals, it is simply not accurate to describe them as you have.

    If you believe that we are mistaken, please direct us to any genuine expert in health care policy or health care finance who agrees with your claim, or any genuine analysis that supports it. Otherwise, we would respectfully suggest that it does not serve the nation or honor the office of the presidency to continue to make a charge so obviously contrary to fact.

    We all know how non-partisan academia is. And, despite their "over a thousand combined years of experience," they're wrong. Any plan that expands Medicaid to include over 50% of the population - which is what the Kerry plan does - is a plan that involves government take-over of the healthcare system. There's just no getting around it.

    UPDATE: People are asking, "where does Kerry say he's going to put over 50% of the population on Medicaid?" His healthcare plan calls for expanding Medicaid coverage to children families that make up to 300% of the federal poverty level. According to the 2004 Federal Poverty Guidelines, 300% of the federal poverty level for a family of four would be a yearly income of $56,500. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median yearly income in 2003 for family households was $53,991. Assuming that the average family is a family of four, that means that over 50% of families would qualify for Medicaid. And believe me, employers won't foot the bill for healthcare insurance when they know their employees can get Medicaid. So a large segment of the population will be shifted to Medicaid, and that's a government healthcare program.

    Maybe I'm misinterpreting the statistics. If so, let me know. But, I think far more people would end up being covered by Medicaid than by the re-insurance part of his plan.

    UPDATE II: Here's some input:

    He wants to expand coverage to kids in families making 300% of poverty.
    For adults, it's only 200% of poverty. And it isn't a guaranteed thing,
    really. It's a funded agreement that states don't have to buy into if
    they don't want.

    Forty percent of families make 200% of the poverty level. Add to that the kids in the the 300% families, and you'd probably have a pretty close to 50% Medicaid coverage.

    And more:

    I have heard many people argue that Medicaid "isn't government run health care". In the strictest sense of the term "government run", they would be correct. The government is not assiging patients particular doctors, directing them when they may see a doctor, etc. Currently, the government cannot impose limits or standards by which the physician and patient must interact. On the other hand, whoever is footing the bill has the final say in care. As spending rises, the one controlling the purse will exact greater control over the distribution of funds. Whether this is in the form of restricted access to care or lower reimbursement for care is up to the government (for some reason I think option #2 would be more likely). To assume that the government would not play a significant role in dispersal of care when it is responsible for the cost of care is just naive.

    Alas, these are just the ramblings of a med-student hopeful. Sometimes I wonder if my future colleagues are really this naive, or just misguided by such faculty as the letter-writers. Differing concepts of reality are what make me anxious for the inevitable question of health care policy come Admissions Committee Interviews.

    And in a lighter vein:

    If you wondered how John Kerry intended to deliver on his pledge of no tax increases while at the same time saving Social Security, providing universal health care, increasing the size of the military, cutting the deficit, and putting a car in every garage, wonder no more!

    I have it on good authority that he's managed to get hold of Teresa's Black Amex card! That's the one a step above Platinum. But that doesn't mean that everybody will get a free ride. You have to do your part. So add a bottle of Ketchup a day to the diet of every man, woman and child.

    Remember, your country depends on it.


    posted by Sydney on 10/26/2004 09:26:00 PM 0 comments


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