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 the state of Georgia.

Like Georgia State Senator Mike Williams of Forsythe County, a candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, I am a Republican with a proven record as a fiscal conservative. I am a former GOP County Chairman and County Commission Chair. Unlike Williams, I am not a Trump loyalist and I know health care.
I am a retired senior level healthcare executive and the former Director of Health Planning for the State of Georgia. Frankly, it disturbs me that seemingly good people like Senator Williams have been brainwashed by the ideological propaganda coming out of former Sec. Price and Speaker Ryan, as exemplified by the horrendous and unpopular Trumpcare bills which would have caused 20-30 million Americans to lose insurance coverage in order to provide a $600 billion tax break for the wealthy and were partially incorporated into the tax reform bill via abolition of the insurance mandate, a big mistake.
I saw Senator Williams on a CNN program (New Day Saturday) movingly speaking about his son who was in an accident and the fact that his wife was about to deliver. I was highly impressed with his sincerity, although concerned because he seemed to have very few facts to back up his very vague case for a “free market” system solution of some sort. He seemed clueless about the actual effect of Obamacare (ACA) on Americans, just repeating it needed to be repealed like a mantra, similar to President Trump (another health care “know nothing”).
He incorrectly stated, “Look at how many millions lost coverage with Obamacare.” Obviously, Williams is unaware of the fact that 22 million people gained coverage under the ACA. Again, I believe his cluelessness is at least partially due to Price and Ryan misleading both the public and politicians, possibly even the President, who prior to his campaign wanted single payer (Medicare for all).
Williams’ definition of a free market, based on what he hears from ideologues like these two, seems to include selling insurance across state lines, which he believes will magically solve our issues via competition. He apparently is unaware that, although premiums are going up rapidly here, Georgia already permits this to occur. Regardless, experts have documented that this move does not make a significant difference in premium costs.
Williams, a wealthy successful entrepreneur, was concerned about lack of competition because his wife was having a baby, and “I have no idea what that is going to cost us because of the way these insurance companies go after profit instead of people.” Since Williams has poured over $1 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign, I doubt this is as big a concern for him as it might be for others.
Having worked in that industry, I totally agree that insurance companies are not altruistic. There is a fiduciary responsibility for corporate officers to legally pursue maximum profits, and they clearly do.
Williams also correctly stated, “Too many elected officials are in the pocket of pharmaceutical corporations as well as insurance companies.”
If you look at who is heavily contributing to Senate and House campaigns for candidates of both parties, you would be amazed. Senators Isakson and Perdue, our drain the swamp Senators (yea, right), are clearly part of this swampy “on the take” group, although I doubt Williams knows this fact.
His heart is clearly on the right place. He just needs better information in order to propose a viable solution, which leads me to question of why someone this unknowledgeable of health care issues and policy would permit himself to be interviewed on national TV. It also causes me to question how good his judgment would be if by chance he was elected Governor. Trump, his idol, has been a divisive bull in the china shop nationally. We do not need that on a state level.
On the broader question of health reform, former Sec. Price chose to provide incorrect information and extreme ideological viewpoints rather than facts concerning both the ACA and Trumpcare. He repeatedly stated that Trumpcare provided full “access.” He never discussed true coverage based on affordability.
The CBO estimated 20-30 million would lose coverage under the various House and Senate plans (and 13 million under the tax reform bill’s removal of the mandate, several million of whom have already left). Price could have cared less, continuing his misleading use of the word “access” and ignoring the proposed drastic cuts in government subsidies.
This is not surprising to many Georgians. We remember Price’s background as a radical right-wing ideologue, going back to his strong opposition to removing the Confederate flag from the Georgia state flag when he was a State Senator a decade ago.
He never acknowledged what he very certainly knew about Obamacare. The ACA has enabled over 20 million people who did not previously have health insurance coverage to get it. Plus, with the subsidies, premiums are affordable as opposed to the exorbitant premiums under Trumpcare, especially for seniors and the ill.
Speaker Ryan is somewhat different. He bills himself as a policy wonk. In my book, he is not. He is not even a competent fiscal analyst.
I have been a state healthcare budget analyst. I was also charged with budget review for a major hospital chain. You look at cost/benefit in government.In business, this process is known as ROI (return on investment).
Ryan does not do a full analysis, he just looks at the impact of domestic programs on the federal budget, ignoring benefits. Even more to the point, in the past (at least before the irresponsible bi-partisan budget compromise) he only cared about cutting domestic rather than military expenditures, although we spend much more on our military as a percentage of GNP than any developed nation. His ideological bias is evident.
Both Ryan and Price are clearly just playing politics with people’s health, caring little for the negative effect Trumpcare would have on actual healthcare coverage. I continue to believe that this position is beneath contempt and that incorporating “skinny repeal” within the tax reform bill was underhanded.
On the other hand, per Gallup and other sources, the majority of the American public now supports the ACA, as well as Medicaid and Medicare. They do not want cuts. The Ryan/Price approach was rejected by Congress, unable to pass a bill of any kind.
In a recent healthcare study conducted by the respected Commonwealth Fund, the USA came out last compared to 10 other developed nations. Cost, access, quality, and other variables were examined. All of these nations have a much more centralized, logical approach to healthcare financing, involving more, not less government, versus our country.
There are ways to improve our healthcare. Expanding the free market is just not one of them. I just wish good people like Senator Williams would understand this fact and I question whether he has the right training to be Governor.