Fayette County News

Fayette County


Ferguson on wrong side of reform

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.
Jack Bernard was the first director of Health Planning for the state of Georgia. He also served as a senior level executive with several national health care firms. Bernard served as Chair of the Jasper County Board of Commissioners and Republican Party.

Rep. Drew Ferguson is my Congressman. I am also a Republican former elected official, but I am not happy with him. Gerrymandering is responsible for electing right wing ideologues like Rep. Ferguson all over the country, in many red (and a lesser number of blue) states.
He seems to have little understanding of how his actions might affect the lives of people of his district. He is a true believer who sees things through an unrealistic anti-government prism, as shown by the campaign he ran which emphasized repeal of Obamacare without indicating specifically what would replace it.
His radicalism shows in his positive vote for Trumpcare, which he now trumpets, misleading his constituents about Trumpcare eliminating the prohibition on denying care due to pre-existing conditions (insurance will be unaffordable).
He is not the only right wing radical when it comes to healthcare. Sec. Tom Price (DHHS Secretary) and Speaker Paul Ryan are the healthcare reform brain trust of the GOP. Conservative pundits tout their revolutionary new ideas, but let’s examine what they have really proposed in the past.
Speaker Ryan’s claim to fame is fiscal austerity. He has advocated major cuts to domestic, NOT military, spending. But at what price? Is fiscal austerity only good for domestic programs?
Ryan’s last budget under the last President contained such items as a full repeal of Obamacare with no replacement at all. Tens of millions would have been thrown into the ranks of the uninsured. Unfortunately, Trumpcare (AHCA) is not  much better.
Dr. Price formerly worked at Grady Hospital, the Atlanta facility for the indigent. Most physicians who see the sort of problems which emanate from lack of care are empathetic to the problems of our less fortunate citizens, but certainly not Price. Privileged, coming from a long line of physicians, he was born on third base, but believes he hit a triple.
Price has repeatedly supported legislation which was even to the right of his party. This should be no surprise in that he supported leaving the Confederate flag on the Georgia State flag when he was a State Senator. So much for the feelings of African Americans (who coincidentally are disproportionately hurt by Obamacare repeal).
Price and Ryan were prevented from carrying out their radical ideological, unproven theories by President Obama. Now, their ideas have been narrowly approved by the House (AHCA) and sent to the Senate, fortunately for sick and elderly Americans, a less extreme body.
Of course, Rep. Ferguson voted for this bill, which he obviously never read given his inaccurate descriptions of pre-existing conditions. If he and other Tea Party GOP Congressmen form Georgia had voted against it, Trumpcare would not have passed. Be ashamed.
Currently, Trumpcare removes the prohibition against discriminating against pre-existing conditions in setting insurance rates, which hits those age 50-64 particularly hard, by permitting insurance companies to charge unaffordable premiums to those who are sick. It also lets insurance companies charge five times as much for sick old people versus the young, leading AARP to correctly label the bill “The Age Tax.”
According to the bi-partisan CBO, the earlier (better) version of the AHCA will result in 24 million people losing coverage. It will also give the wealthy a $600 million tax break.
As Trump said during the campaign, he thinks it is “smart” not to pay taxes (although his budget includes a substantial increase in military expenditures that the rest of us will pay for).
Now, the real question is what will the Senate and eventually Trump do?
Trump advocated for single payer many times in the past. He wrote a book in 2000 praising Canadian healthcare, their version of Medicare for All, and recently said the Australian single payer system was much better than ours. He is 100 percent correct based on impartial statistics regarding cost, quality, and access.
Gallup (12-16) studied the issue of efficiency in our health care system. It found that our system was very inefficient. While still failing to cover 30 million of us, the percentage of GNP devoted to healthcare rose from 9 to 18 percent over just a few decades.
Gallup pointed out that Europe’s single payer systems had the leverage to control costs. All of Europe pays much less per capita than we do. Italy, for example, pays a third of what we do and has better morbidity and mortality rates.
If Trump (and the Senate) looks at the facts, the solution is clear: phase in single payer here beginning with those age 50-64, as suggested by Majority Leader Reid but rejected by Obama. Obviously Price is not the one to run DHHS and implement it. But, although the majority of House Democrats have already endorsed HB 676, Medicare for All, that is not the way it will go.
Trump has to placate the Tea Party extremists (the misnamed Freedom Caucus) who control policy decisions in the House. Most Senators of both parties don’t want to talk about single payer because it cuts profits of insurance companies and drug companies, big money contributors to their campaigns. So much for the “draining the swamp” campaign rhetoric.
If we end up with any repeal/replace law at all (which is very doubtful), it will be a convoluted mess that few understand. One thing is certain. If anything like the current Trumpcare is enacted, it will have far reaching negative consequences for our healthcare.
Rep. Ferguson, do you really want 24 million people kicked off their insurance and a $600 million tax break for the rich? Do you want to be known as reverse Robin Hood? Will that be your plank in the next election or will you mislead the public yet again?