Politics and Health Care: Is the Price Right?

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Submitted on Mon, 01/02/2017 - 00:00

No matter what one's view point politically, health care has become increasingly politicized. The passing of the Affordable Care Act and its sloppy implementation has made it an easy political target. We are now to discover what will happen under a new administration that has unequivocally declared the demise of Obamacare. Tom Price's selection as US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary is a telling sign of what is likely to come.  

Health care costs and insurance premiums are high. The ACA did nothing but add to this. While more patients had coverage, they still did not have adequate access to affordable health care. Additionally, the shift to hospital system its expanding monopolies did not help. The mergers of hospitals only increased costs of health care. It is easy to see that the some of the heaviest cost of health care are results of hospitalizations and hospital bills. Therein lies the real inflation in healthcare as we have seen large hospital mergers and a shift of health care from the doctor’s office to the hospital systems which now tend to employ the physicians. These facts were likely a spark to the political change that we see as result of the recent election.

Tom Price, MD, is now designated by the president-elect to hold the position of HHS secretary.  

I say it is about time we had a physician in charge rather than a lawyer, etc.  He is someone who has worked as physician and understands the intricacies of the day-to-day life of a physician.  He has also seen the evolution and degradation of the practice of medicine from what it used to be to what it has become—a business guided by large hospital systems with employed physicians where the focus has shifted from patients to profits.  

I hope and expect that health care reform will incentivize patients to be responsible and partake in their health care. I foresee a shift back to the community physicians and away from the hospital system and a strong focus on innovation and on primary care. The emergency department would no longer be the first venue for healthcare for the majority of the people. Of course, it would be beautiful if there was respect for the doctor-patient relationship and a commitment that such relationships are sacred and not necessarily interchangeable even with the best of doctors. All americans  would have insurance coverage but more importantly they would have ACCESS to good affordable healthcare without the fear of losing their livelihood with a single illness.

Time will tell whether the price is right.