Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Take $29,000 and Call Me In the Morning

The Wausau Daily Herald is running a story on a forum sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which featured two Marathon County docs who oppose Healthy Wisconsin and, it appears, pretty much any fundamental health care reform plan.

The title of the article is "Doctors Slam Health Plan." Not much is given to explain why the two docs would want to slam Healthy Wisconsin, except that they fear the costs of the program will be high and it could draw out-of-state patients who would strain the economy.

Both of these lines have been typical conservative talking points in the debate over fundamental health care reform, and both are largely without merit. The high cost line is relative since, of course, independent studies have shown that the cost of doing nothing is what's the greatest, and the out-of-state line fails to consider state programs that already provide health care to a large portion of low-income residents as well as simple evidence that shows people -- particularly the poor -- often don't move across state lines simply to gain health coverage.

However, I really didn't expect the Daily Herald article to get into the analytical flaws of the presentation by the two docs trotted out by Americans for Prosperity, which the article did point out is an organization that seeks "limited government and market-based economic policies."

But something that might be considered pertinent information in a clearly political article such as this is the fact that the two docs at the forum have together contributed over $29,000 to GOP state candidates since 2005. And all it takes to find that info is a quick search for "Pam Galloway" and "Chris Magiera" on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign site.

In the end, it's the analysis of the impact of fundamental health care reform that ultimately falls short. But what's potentially most devious in the article is that it gives the impression to readers that the two docs appeared at the forum as independent, professional voices as opposed to highly politicized spokespeople, which is really what their recent spending habits suggest.

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Blogger Jack Lohman said...

>>> "…they fear the costs of the program will be high and it could draw out-of-state patients who would strain the economy."

I would sure hope for an altruistic reason like that, but I've spent 35 years dealing with doctors and know better. It's my guess that they simply like the status quo, where they can bill private insurers quadruple what they can get from Medicare or Healthy Wisconsin. It's called "follow the money," and in this case it's not as visible as the tens of thousands of dollars Rep. Leah Vukmir gets from the healthcare industry of the $600K all Republicans have pocketed in healthcare campaign contributions.

But you are right, Seth. The doctors would be foolish to be concerned that these "out-of-state patients" are drawing money from the system because poor people from other states will not migrate when they have their own Medicaid and ERs in their own states.

Obviously, the doctors are far better off getting money from a few high-rollers than a lot of smaller payers, but even with these "sky is falling" claims, Healthy Wisconsin still saves $1.8 billion per year.

August 29, 2007  
Blogger Dad29 said...

One notes that Doyle was quick to remind the docs that their incomes will be impaired.

One day later, a 20% reduction in Medicaid reimbursement is floated.

August 30, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Yeah, Doyle is clearly out to stick it to doctors. It's all just a vast left-wing conspiracy propagated by the trial lawyers.

August 30, 2007  
Blogger Jack Lohman said...

This whole thing about doctors being overpaid and thus the problem is pure hogwash. The major problem is the 31% waste that is consumed by the insurance bureaucracy. They are fighting to keep that unnecessary waste in the system, and if doctors get hurt in the process, so be it.

That said, there is indeed some overuse by some doctors and that must be checked. Other than that doctors and nurses should be very well. More than the average CEO. But they are ceding their authority to set their own wages, and they and hospital leaders had best wake up and smell the coffee before they lose control to corporate CEOs.

August 30, 2007  

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