Opinion

Boyd Matheson: Congress can end the madness around health care

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  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 9:23 a.m.

    Any system that compensates it's healthcare professionals on a pay-for-service basis is going to drive "use"... and "cost"... of the system up.

    When doctors only get paid for finding a problem and fixing it... it incentivises that. If people don't get sick often, doctors suffer. If they don't find lots of problems, they get paid less.

    We need to move to a population health model that compensates healthcare professionals for PREVENTING illness (not just fixing us when we get sick).

    If you only get paid when people get sick... how hard are you going to work to make sure people don't get sick (and you don't get paid)?

    We need to pay doctors to do more prevention, and less procedures.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 17, 2017 8:21 a.m.

    The whole thing is pretty easy to see if one steps back.

    For over 70 years America had life and death for sale, and progressives tried to fix that numerous times only to fail to Republican opposition.

    For over 70 years the cost of life and death sky rocketed left to market forces (see Marxist).

    The Democrats had a small window to try and alter this and they took it. Republicans did not change their stance that life and death should be for sale and opposed every opportunity to contribute (see comment about hearings etc.).

    Republicans (with the exceptions of some who have ground level responsibility for the lives of actual citizens) still believe life and death should be for sale but masked in the mantle of "freedom of choice".

    After years of experience with the ACA it should be adjusted to better meet it's intentions and the citizens needs just like all social programs have been, but both sides motives in this debate need to be front and center.

    Life and death is for sale....or the life of our countries citizens,it's preservation and enhancement is our goal.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 17, 2017 8:21 a.m.

    The whole thing is pretty easy to see if one steps back.

    For over 70 years America had life and death for sale, and progressives tried to fix that numerous times only to fail to Republican opposition.

    For over 70 years the cost of life and death sky rocketed left to market forces (see Marxist).

    The Democrats had a small window to try and alter this and they took it. Republicans did not change their stance that life and death should be for sale and opposed every opportunity to contribute (see comment about hearings etc.).

    Republicans (with the exceptions of some who have ground level responsibility for the lives of actual citizens) still believe life and death should be for sale but masked in the mantle of "freedom of choice".

    After years of experience with the ACA it should be adjusted to better meet it's intentions and the citizens needs just like all social programs have been, but both sides motives in this debate need to be front and center.

    Life and death is for sale....or the life of our countries citizens,it's preservation and enhancement is our goal.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 17, 2017 5:00 a.m.

    @unrepentant progressive - great observation:

    Republicans spent a year opposing every aspect of the ACA, before it was passed, though it was the same system championed as being a wonderful success in Massachusetts (down to the detail of the same individuals who architected Romneycare doing the same for Obamacare).

    Similarly, Republicans used to push the idea that states were the perfect "laboratories for ideas" where concepts could be proven before applying the best ones for the nation. We don't hear that high minded idea, anymore.

    The current Republican flailing reflects they really have no cohesive, coherent idea of what to do. Seven years of talking big have boiled down to a unmarketable hairball.

    At week ago, the White House and Congressional Republicans were starting to
    demonize the CBO, "you just can't trust their numbers, folks"... before it was revealed the CBO's estimate of 20 million people losing their insurance under the GOP's plan was actually lower than the 26 million estimated by the White House.

    How Republican voters continue to believe anything Republican politicians say is a mystery for the ages.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2017 9:22 p.m.

    @2bits "Hate to break it to you, but Health Care is expensive, even if you turn it over to the Government."

    You raise the big issue. To have a market solution to health care that is efficient the following conditions would have to obtain (according to neoclassical economy): many buyers and sellers so that no one can force price, ease of market entry and exit, plentiful and easily obtained information (totally absent for consumers), and a market in equilibrium where demand equals supply. The absence of these conditions contributes to the high cost of health care, and make a market solution impossible. And the debate rages.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 16, 2017 8:22 p.m.

    "The "right" thing to do is to obey the Constitution and let the States or the people handle health insurance."

    but... but.... isn't Trumps plan to circumnavigate the states and offer a national market system to health insurance? Which is it.... states get to control their markets, or the feds under Trump institutionalize a national marketplace? It can't be both.

    As to government ads cost.... I still don't get this argument. United Healthcare, Aetna, and the rest of them have just as much administrative cost as does the government. Above that, they need to make enough money to pay Wall Street a quarterly dividend... and show a profit. Government doesn't need to pay any of this non-value added expense corporate providers do.

    Truth be told, it is the corporatization of health care delivery that has added many additional layers to healthcare delivery. It used to be your family doctor didn't have to have a couple of admins and an accountant to keep the health care corporations happy... plus all the staff at the the insurance companies. There are now too many none healthcare people involved taking their share out of the system.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    March 16, 2017 6:30 p.m.

    " There are a host of other measures that can increase portability, decrease cost, create better health care outcomes, and ensure the needs of the most vulnerable among us are met."

    Mr. Matheson, if this is true, why on earth didn't you write your elected reps back in 2009 and ask them to amend the ACA to include all this good stuff? Why did you sit silently when they wasted all of our tax dollars on these silly repeal votes? Why did you sit silently last week when Ryan's plan was wheeled out? You say you know a better way--and Trump says his bill will be better and cost less and cover everybody! Why have neither of you let Paul Ryan in on your secret?

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    March 16, 2017 6:19 p.m.

    @What in Tucket? writes,

    As for the wonderful European system ask how long a person with breast or other cancer survives compared the US. A much shorter time.

    Survival after this or that diagnosis is irrelevant. What's critical is total life expectancy. And 42 countries--forty two!--have longer life expectancies than the US, including pretty much all of Europe and Canada.

    and @Husker1 says, "What works in Cuba (or Sweden or Denmark or Canada...) may not necessarily work in the U.S.".

    Unless you have a very specific reason that it wouldn't--in which case, you would, I assume, have already told us--we'll assume, until proven otherwise, that it would work just fine.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    March 16, 2017 5:53 p.m.

    @Mike Richards wrote, "The "right" thing to do is to obey the Constitution and let the States or the people handle health insurance... The Federal Government is not authorized to demand that we have insurance nor is it authorized to provide insurance."

    Mike, none of Utah's congressional delegation seems to believe this. I'm assuming that you have written them to share your expertise [and correct their misunderstanding] and they are, nonetheless, ignoring you. I don't understand why you keep voting for them.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2017 4:56 p.m.

    @2bits "Turning it [healthcare] over to the government just hides the real expense, and adds layers of bureaucracy and government inefficiency."

    On the contrary medicare is well run, and efficient. With private insurance you have a middle man in the form of insurance companies, which are profit seeking. Seeking profit adds cost.

    And while we're at it, what is profit, and from whence does it come? Insurance company profit comes from two sources: 1) exploitation of insurance company employees (not paying them completely for the value they add - Marx's surplus value), and 2) non competitive markets out of equilibrium, i.e. demand exceeds supply. In either case profit is SOMETHING FOR NOTHING. Insurance company profits do not contribute to our health. They just add cost.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2017 4:49 p.m.

    @Husker1 "And have you actually seen Cuba's health care system??"

    No I have never visited Cuba. But the data coming out of that system look good. I suppose you could claim Cuba is cooking the books. But the WHO thinks very highly of the Cuban system. I merely suggest we take a look at it. They have a socialist healthcare system. Socialism often works, but sometimes doesn't. I merely suggest Mr. Matheson have a look and report on what he finds. And while he's at it, he should look at the Canadian system and Germany too.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 16, 2017 2:15 p.m.

    Hate to break it to you, but Health Care is expensive, even if you turn it over to the Government.

    Turning it over to the government just hides the real expense, and adds layers of bureaucracy and government inefficiency.

    You still pay premiums. You still pay your premium every pay check (just in the form of higher taxes, instead of a premium for the healthcare plan you picked for your family). you know... the one-size-fits-all government way of doing things.

    Healthcare in other countries may look cheaper. But it's hard to get a real accounting of what anything actually costs (because it's highly subsidized by tax payers).

    Remember... the government doesn't have a goose that lays golden eggs. The only source of money they have is you and me.

    You will still be paying for your healthcare, whether you demand to the Government to provide it or not.

    What is the government good at? Governing. They should stick to that.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 16, 2017 1:28 p.m.

    I find in this thread and others the consistent complaint of the Sutherland Institute and other Conservatives that the Obamacare bill(s) were rammed through the House and Senate.

    Well, I suppose I have a different defintion of rammed through than do they. The ACA (Obamacare) bill was first proposed in the Congress in February 2009. It was not signed by the President until a year later. In the meantime, countless hearings and votes were taken in both the House and the Senate. And as noted by previous comments, Republicans were invited into the process. However, it suited their political goals to make Obama a one term President, so they refused to negotiate.

    Let us keep our facts and our history straight, Sutherland Institute and other conservatives.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    March 16, 2017 12:29 p.m.

    @marxist "Is it too much to ask that we take a look at some other health care systems outside of the United States?"

    What works in Cuba (or Sweden or Denmark or Canada...) may not necessarily work in the U.S.

    And have you actually seen Cuba's health care system??

  • TheJester American Fork, UT
    March 16, 2017 10:22 a.m.

    Another day, another hack job by the Sutherland Institute, dutifully published in the Deseret News.

    Let's start with a lie. Specifically positioning Nancy Pelosi's statement about passing the ACA.

    Here is what she said, in context:

    “You’ve heard about the controversies, the process about the bill…but I don’t know if you’ve heard that it is legislation for the future – not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America,” she told the National Association of Counties annual legislative conference, which has drawn about 2,000 local officials to Washington. “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”

    During the 20-minute speech, she touted benefits she thought would be tangible to the audience’s employers. You can disagree with her premise and the law's results, but she did not arrogantly state that the bill needed to be passed, sight unseen.

    Then, Mr. Matheson builds off of that lie to support his position. This opinion piece is a perfect example of using "fake news" and "alternative facts" to attempt to deceive the public.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    March 16, 2017 10:12 a.m.

    The Cuban health care system is horrible except for a hospital for the elites. Obamacare is imploding. However I would want to know why a person cannot get his total knee at a hospital that charges $5,000 vs a hospital that charges $15,000. ALso why a hospital charges $39,000 for a 3 day stay no surgery and gets $14,000- from Medicare(still too much).
    As for the wonderful European system ask how long a person with breast or other cancer survives compared the US. A much shorter time.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 16, 2017 9:22 a.m.

    What are the morals and ethics that conservatives use to fund the war machine, including more nukes according to trump, but not healthcare?
    Please Mr Matheson, describe why so much is spent on building a war machine when your side wants to do away with any system of paying for healthcare.
    Does that line up with your religious beliefs?
    Why is it that every other civilized country on earth has a system for their citizens to access healthcare but republicans in the US would rather not do that?
    The ACA was not failing. It was working. There were people who's premiums did go up but there were people who's premiums dropped. Why not just fund a single payer system? The US has the money, we just need to stop buy F-35s that don't work. We need to stop funding wars on the other side of the world.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 16, 2017 8:41 a.m.

    A big Amen! to all those criticizing the Sutherland spokesman's arguments. It is about time.

    However I got a new point to toss in. Just what is wrong with a mandate for insurance for everyone? After all, we will all get sick at some point in our lives. And no one is going to be denied treatment, especially in emergencies.

    If the logic behind mandating auto insurance stands, why not health care insurance. In reality it protects us all.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 16, 2017 8:34 a.m.

    "The path to victory and better health care for Americans starts by realizing that Obamacare is going to end, whether by repeal or collapsing under its own weight."

    This is a very dishonest and misleading statement. In California where the State Government has promoted and participated in the exchanges, the program has been successful. In fact coverage is very inclusive and cost increases are relatively low. In Ohio where of the republican governor, unlike his fellow republicans, sees the value of maintaining the medicaid expansion and other elements of the ACA. He also knows that the phrase "collapsing under its own weight" really means the republicans are making every effort to defund it.

    The author should just come out and say I do not believe in subsidizing other people's healthcare.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 16, 2017 7:54 a.m.

    The "right" thing to do is to obey the Constitution and let the States or the people handle health insurance. That is the Supreme Law of the Land. The Federal Government is not authorized to demand that we have insurance nor is it authorized to provide insurance. It certainly is not authorized to take funds from one part of society to pay for health insurance for another part of society.

    Get rid of ObamaCare. Throw it out. Destroy it. Then, if the people in a State want their State to require insurance, let that State require it. That is what Mitt Romney did. His plan was legal. His plan did not violate the Constitution.

    What we really have is a bunch of politicians who want to buy votes by offering something that is illegal. And, we have a bunch of people who reject their responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution by demanding goods and services not authorized by the Constitution.

    Either amend the Constitution to allow the Federal Government to require insurance or get the Federal Government out of the insurance business.

  • stevo123 slc, ut
    March 16, 2017 7:46 a.m.

    If Mr. Matheson's wish comes true, Utah and its legislature will become the final death panel.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 16, 2017 7:44 a.m.

    A Republican bill is quietly moving through Congress the public should know about.

    The bill allows employers to demand DNA tests in employee wellness programs, and the employers then have a right to that DNA data. That nice insurance plan you have through your employer could legally identify you or your family members as being expensive genetic liabilities.

    Who is dumb enough to think the ban on pre-existing conditions will hold up in the long term against employer knowledge of high risk for expensive care coming up, based on an employee's and their family's genetics?

    If I owned a smaller business, and knew an employee's wife was predisposed to breast cancer, I would be financially negligent to *not* take that knowledge into consideration the next time I need to layoff some employees.

    "We all loved Ted, and he did a great job, but to save the company, we had to let him go, otherwise our insurance will go through the roof, within 5-12 years."

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 16, 2017 7:23 a.m.

    So much of this is utter nonsense. I can't give a comprehensive response, but I will make two comments. First, don't expect the Republican Congress to fix anything. Rather than building on the ACA, they are obsessed with repeal because of their hatred for a President who was finally able to get something done on the issue. They clearly have nothing better in mind, eschewing the obvious solutions. Partisan political pettiness is all they have. Second, looking to the states is no solution. Some states stepped up under the ACA and some didn't. Utah loves to brag about their limited approach, but I know of people on disability with no income who are denied coverage because there is no room in the inn. Utah adopted a program just to appear like they care, but they don't. Some states are even worse. Insurance companies work across state lines. So do large health care providers. We have a national system. Pretending we are still back in 1796 is closing one's eyes to reality. There needs to be a comprehensive, national solution, putting the interests of the people first for a change. The Republicans cannot and will not deliver that.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    March 16, 2017 7:05 a.m.

    Every proposal to any thing the Republicans always lead it with a TAX CUT for the RICH.

    If Congress was forced to use the healthcare system that they are passing than I am sure they would do their best to make it better.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    March 16, 2017 7:05 a.m.

    I'm confident the Republicans will mess up this opportunity to fix health care just like the Democrats did with ACA. Neither side will listen to the other. Neither side is willing to work with the other to come up with the best possible health care solution.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    March 16, 2017 7:01 a.m.

    The GOP should listen to Gov. Kasich and do healthcare right and involve democrats otherwise nothing will be sustainable and it will all be redone again next political change. I wish everyone could of listened to him on Meet the Press last week. He sounded like the only grown up in the room. No talk of iPhones.

    The GOP is completely leaving the employer market alone (150 million Americans), drastically cutting medicaid and subsidies for the poor and older Americans which has been estimated to hit rural area and Trump voters worse actually.

    They are offering up "tax credits" that phase out in the individual market with income, but yet not targeted to those in greatest need either. This is totally illogical if you are trying to insure the most people. And why in the individual market the credits get "phased out" with income when in the employer market, the higher tax bracket you are in the bigger net "subsidy" they get.

    We need one market for all, same plans to choose from for all at the same prices and same rates. No more corporate welfare. Tax credits for all with limits or tax deductions for all with limits.
    Then be logical and target help to the poor.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 16, 2017 6:38 a.m.

    "Democrats didn’t have time to do health care right, and after eight years of failed rollouts, a steady string of broken promises, millions of dollars wasted, skyrocketing premiums and ridiculous deductibles for hardworking Americans, it seems to be time to do it over."

    And during those 8 years and now counting, the Republicans proposed fixes to what was done wrong how often? Instead of fixing what was wrong, they focused solely on the idea of repeal.

    What is being proposed here as sanity is absolutely contrary to how the real world works. No company roles out a perfect product day one. Most products aren't perfect even after a year or two. Most companies succeed through incremental improvements to their products. Using the Southerlands approach Apple should have been shuttered after the first Mac shipped - as it was far from perfect. Innovation works through iteration. The iPhone wasn't the first smart phone, it was just a better integration of what was already out there.

    What is being said here is contrary to the fundamentals of capitalist economics. Improve markets via continuous improvement - not cancelation or repeal.

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    March 16, 2017 4:45 a.m.

    I could not believe the inaccurate description of the passage of the ACA in 2009 until I saw that the writer was with the Sunderland Institute.
    I remember quite vividly that President Obama came close to making a fool out of himself by asking the Republicans over and over and over to contribute to the bill. I also remember the Republicans swearing that they would do nothing to contribute to or vote for anything proposed by Obama because they wanted him out of office in 2012.
    In the ensuing 7 years the Republicans in the House voted about 60 times to repeal the whole thing and never offered one suggestion for improvement.
    Remember this is something that should have been solved in the Nixon Administration or somewhere since then.
    I respectfully mention that to Deseret News in my love you ought to be above printing opinion pieces that contain " alternative facts".

  • IceCreamGhost Sandy, UT
    March 16, 2017 12:55 a.m.

    Many other industrialized countries have already solved this riddle: Single Payer System.

    It uses less percentage of GDP and covers more people.
    It allows people to start up small businesses without that burden of losing their coverage
    Having a huge block of people allows the state to negotiate prices on drugs and procedures
    You CUT huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy by cutting out insurance and it makes the system much simpler.

    Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, Australia - ALL use a variant of single payer. And they may whine about this or that but if you really talk to them NONE would switch to the mess we have here.

    I'm tired of paying so much and getting so little in return. Healthcare is not a normal market and shouldn't be treated like on. It is good for America for everyone to have access to healthcare. (REAL access, not Paul Ryan access)

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 16, 2017 12:21 a.m.

    Is it too much to ask that we take a look at some other health care systems outside of the United States?

    Consider: According to the UN’s World Health Organization, Cuba’s health care system is an example for all countries of the world. The Cuban health system is recognized worldwide for its excellence and its efficiency. Despite extremely limited resources and the dramatic impact caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States for more than half a century, Cuba has managed to guarantee access to care for all segments of the population and obtain results similar to those of the most developed nations.

    I suspect Mr. Matheson will find my suggestion to look at the Cuban system an outrage. But Mr Matheson, how is it that Cuba matches outcomes for the most developed countries while having very limited resources? Have a look.

    I doubt you will, but if we socialists obtain ballot access in 2018 we surely will have a look at Cuban health, and present our findings to the people of Utah.