Michael Gerson: Health care alternative, co-sponsored by Orrin Hatch, represents what Americans need

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  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Jan. 30, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    Leave me alone. I can do without doctors; I have for decades. If I need one I'll pay for one. The medical profession is OK but severely overrated: They give you rat poison for high blood pressure, and torture you to death if you have cancer, which they cannot cure.
    They perform fatal operations to help you lose weight; yes "bariatric surgery" which could be safely replaced with a balloon insertion in the stomach, easily reversible and cheap.

    Barack Hatch and Orrin Obama; your expensive coercive plans have much in common. Have you thought about freedom and free choice - ever?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 30, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    @Badgerbadger – “Hatch changed parties years ago. He just forgot to change the letter after his name.”

    I think you suffering from the illusion of relative motion (e.g., being on a moving train but thinking the scenery going by is what is moving).

    Hatch has remained relatively consistent as have most center-right pragmatic Republicans, that is those who have not yet been drummed out.

    The Republican Party on the other hand has grown (exponentially since Obama came on the scene) a new appendage, which would be largely unrecognizable by many of the Republican stalwarts of the past, including St. Reagan.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 9:23 p.m.

    Hatch changed parties years ago. He just forgot to change the letter after his name.

  • Leftcoastrocky Los Angeles, CA
    Jan. 29, 2014 7:55 p.m.

    Under this "republican" plan, employer-provided health insurance plans, which are currently not taxed, are partially taxable as income to the employee.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    Jan. 29, 2014 7:36 p.m.

    Obamacare IS Hatch's plan. He was calling for mandatory health insurance in the 1990s.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 6:41 p.m.

    Get insurance out of health care. Health care is a condition, not an insurable commodity. We can provide it better and cheaper with a single payer system.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    First of all, I agree with something you said(it's weird to me too man) Doctors shouldn't be able to charge one price for Blue Cross, another for Select Health, and double for cash customers. However, you are not accurate when you say that this payment structure was caused by the ACA. Multilevel payment structures have been around for decades. Without a regulation fixing costs, the free market sets them, which means a company that can bring volume to a doctors office can get lower prices per procedure than if you go in by yourself. It's no different than buying in bulk, the more you buy the less you pay per unit. But the ACA doesn't really touch doctor compensation, especially in the private insurance market. That these problems aren't addressed are a flaw in the law, but the ACA simply isn't the cause of these payment structures.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 29, 2014 2:56 p.m.

    "Joe Blow implies that corporate America is at fault. I disagree. Corporate America did not give us multilevel payments Medicare and ObamCare did."

    Completely wrong Mr Richards.

    Blue Cross (corporation) negotiates the cost of certain procedures with the hospital (corporation).

    If I am covered by BC and have a hernia operation, and you have the exact same operation but no insurance, the hospital will charge you more. And the difference will be significant.

    Tell me how that is affected by Obamacare or how that is caused by Medicare.

    My My the lengths you will go in order to keep corporate America blameless.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 2:29 p.m.

    The best part about this article is that it discussed the huge tax transfer Hatch's bill pushes onto those getting health insurance benefits as "empowering patients." The extra 2k most people will pay in taxes under Hatch's plan is not empowering them, as conservatives would like you to believe.

    Oh, and this plan? It's not a liberal plan. This plan is a Heritage Foundation derived plan, written by insurance companies that has nothing to do with liberalism or liberals. You know what a liberal plan would be? Single payer.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    Don't you love it when people put words in your mouth, especially when those words are their own and not yours. To keep things simple (moderator), let's require quotes when one poster tells us what another poster "wrote".

    We have laws to protect us from anyone in society who would use his position or power to take advantage of other members of society. When a doctor charges one person a certain price and another person a much higher price for the same procedure, that doctor is using his position and power to defraud one person as he favors another.

    Joe Blow implies that corporate America is at fault. I disagree. Corporate America did not give us multilevel payments Medicare and ObamCare did.

    Hatch perpetuates the problem. He pretends that a doctor has the right to charge different rates for the same procedure. Does he allow the grocer to charge a different price for the same gallon of milk based on the color of the credit (insurance) card?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 29, 2014 12:14 p.m.


    Your grievances are with the doctors and the hospitals. Not with the evil government.

    Blue Cross beats the hospital charges down because they know the charges are inflated. And that Blue Cross carries enough sway to do it.

    Does the hospital lose money on those with Blue Cross? Not at all. They just don't make as much as they would like.

    Why does a hospital charge a cash paying customer more than Blue cross? Great question.
    Blue Cross has much more sway than you or I. I agree it is not fair.

    Your points are valid. But what is happening is Corporate American taking advantage of people in order to make huge profits. Sometimes, business take advantage of people.

    Why is that so hard for so many to admit?

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    The headline says this is about Hatch's healthcare plan, but then says virtually nothing about it. So I did a little research. It amounts to a tax cut for corporations combined with a tax increase for workers. Republicans are incapable of change. Oh and it keeps a whole lot of Obamacare' core pieces intact. I guess all that hating Obamacare was just for show.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 11:55 a.m.


    I am really confused. You usually see capitalism without regulation as the solution to all our problems. Get government out of the way. Why would you have a problem with what a doctor charges? Doctor's should be able to charge as much as the market (whatever that market is) will bear. Isn't that the unfettered capitalism that you keep asking for? If you don't want to pay the doctor for his services, go somewhere else, if you think he is overcharging you to cover someone he is undercharging, go somewhere else. With capitalism the market will always correct itself, right? The doctor has no responsibility to the patients pocket book, he has a responsibility to provide appropriate medical care and make the most money he can for he and his family. He is a businessman just like any other business man.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    Hatch's plan has details and you can look it up its not hard. The change in the employer deduction is necessary to stop employers from offering health plans that have caused inflation in healthcare costs. This deduction along with medicare and medicaid are currently the single largest factors in health care inflation. In reality it would push almost everyone to HSAs which is a good thing not a bad thing. This is more free market than our previous system that restricted HSAs.

    Second Medicaid would be given to the states to mold to their needs.

    Lastly it would fix some of the sneaky things insurers do when they impose lifetime limits or certain co payments they hide after you reach a deductible.

    Its much better than what we had before and people would have to opt out of insurance if they didn't' want it instead of being forced to sign up.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    @mike richards. Your idea for no insurance for non-major procedure has merit but unfortunately I think general practitioners would cease to exist because a lot of people would simply avoid going to the doctor because they can not afford it.

    I wish either the states or the federal government would forgive doctors student loans if they agreed to reduce their prices for procedures for a certain amount of years. Also I wish the government would test out ideas on a small scale before they would launch it on a big scale to see if they are achieving the intending results.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 10:41 a.m.


    Does it seem odd that I would want to be treated equal to my neighbors when visiting my doctor? Does it seem odd that I would be upset when a doctor charges the government less than his services cost to get medicare payments and then passes the difference on to those who pay cash? Does it seem odd that I would be upset when a doctor accepts less than he needs from an insurance company and then passes the difference on to those without insurance?

    I am against fraud in any form. Passing normal and usual expenses on to someone because you are willing to undercharge someone else is fraudulent.

    Hatch's plan does not address government's role in forcing us to buy a product. It does not address the cost of service given. It does not address transferring costs from one patient to another. It does not address any of the flaws of ObamaCare. The only thing that is different is that it has Hatch's name on it. Why not call it ObamaCare/HatchCare?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    The Hatch alternative is absurd. It takes us right back to the old days when insurance companies could deny coverage to sick people -- after all, that's the business they're in, to insure healthy people and avoid paying claims. Obamacare is flawed, but it's better than the cruel mess Hatch would create.

    Jan. 29, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    The synopsis I read regarding Hatch's plan is basically "restore everything to the way it was before the ACA went into effect, expect the parts of the ACA that is really popular with American voters, because we don't want voters to get mad at us."

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 29, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    There should have been a link in the article to the plan details. The 3/4 of the article was spent bashing the ACA and Hatchs plan was like an afterthought.

    Surprisingly, they did write an actual plan and the details are out there on Hatchs senate dot gov page.

    Google Patient Care Act, and you can find it.

    Mr Richards was obviously able to find it.

    He writes
    "Require that the lowest price that a doctor charges be the price that he charges everyone. EQUALITY in billing."

    And all along I would have thought that would be seen a an evil regulation and not part of the constitution. A chink in his "constitutional armor" perhaps?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 29, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    Best line in the article:

    “And given the choice between incompetent liberalism and tea party populism, Americas are, well, in deep trouble.”

    America is in desperate need of a third way (party), and perhaps the best means of accomplishing this is a full scale civil war within the Republican Party culminating in a schism between pragmatic center-right folks like Hatch, McCain and Bob Bennett, and the far-right Tea Party folks.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    Two thoughts on this. First, for a two page article this was short on specifics of Hatch's plan, and long on the criticism of the ACA. If the Hatch plan is so great, why no details? Secondly, while i'm glad some republicans are warming back up to the idea of actually running the government, isn't it a bit late guys? ACA is already being implemented, the bill itself passed nearly 4 years ago(march 2010) This alternative might have been helpful before the other program was in effect. But isn't it a bit late? By the time you could pass this ACA will have been in full effect for 6 months to a year. This would have been much more helpful 4 years ago. And every single sponsor of this bill was in office when the ACA was voted on.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    More Republican obfuscation. Where was Orrin during the ACA negotiations? With his long history in this area, he deliberately walked away and refused to participate. This is posturing and nothing more. It is intended to fool the American people into thinking that the GOP has a plan to solve the problem. Nothing more. As the President said last night, if the GOP has ideas to make things better, put them out there. So far, nothing, not even Orrin's "plan."

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Jan. 29, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    Forbes just came out with story that Hatch's health plan is a massive tax increase. Hatch's plan changes employer health plans from being tax exempt to only 65 percent tax exempt.

    The Republican plan isn't really a solution either.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2014 7:50 a.m.

    Hatch's plan is nonsense. He is going to FORCE every American to buy health insurance, just like Obama. Can he show us where in the Constitution the Senate has the authority to force Americans to buy anything? If it starts out unconstitutional, just when will it become constitutional?

    ObamaCare is a death sentence to many of us. We have the "privilege" of paying over $5,000 per year in increased insurance costs and then paying the first $7,500 out of pocket for any medical treatment. We don't have $12,500.

    Hatch continues the charade. He pretends that government is the solution.

    Eliminate insurance coverage for any non-major procedure. If people can't afford to visit the doctor, the doctor will lower his fees. It's a proven concept. Hatch doesn't understand that. Obama doesn't understand that. The rest of us do.

    Require that the lowest price that a doctor charges be the price that he charges everyone. EQUALITY in billing.

    Patching a broken system will never work. Get government out of insurance.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Jan. 29, 2014 7:33 a.m.

    Odd. The author didn't get around to discussing Hatch's alternative and then only presented it in political non-speech.

    Don't know where he's getting his info, but my husband just priced an alternative to our health insurance plan (now $24K / year with a $5K deductible) and learned that we can get a policy with the same coverage for $600 / month for 2 adults in their mid-50's and two teenagers still at home. That's cheaper, Mr. Gerson, by 70%.

    Still, I can agree with you that Obamacare is less than desirable. I was for a single payer system. We could have made it voluntary. I'm sure that if we had, people would have galloped to join, just as they do when their eligible for Medicare.

    Meanwhile, still waiting for any info on Hatch's plan, which was the purported purpose of Mr. Gerson's piece.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 29, 2014 5:41 a.m.


    It is about time.

    I actually read through the Patient Care Act.

    I think it has merit. While short on specifics, I commend these sponsors for finally proposing something of substance.

    This is has some actual meat. It goes far beyond "get govt out of healthcare", tort reform and insurance beyond state lines.

    While the devil will be in the details (it always is) at least we can finally see a GOP proposal that can be scrutinized and debated.

    Again, let me finally commend the GOP for putting something forth.

    I urge everyone to look at it with an open mind with the goal of actually improving healthcare.