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‘One Problem, One Bill’: Real Health Care Reform

Instead of President Obama's gargantuan bill, let's take the problems one at a time and address them individually.

by
Dr. Peter Weiss

Bio

February 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
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I understand the temptation to draft one bill to solve all the problems in the system. But we’ve all witnessed the reality of this unrealistic approach. So I have a simple solution that will either bring people together to create meaningful reform, or expose the partisan political operatives and their true agendas. I call it: “One Problem, One Bill.” Republicans don’t have to accept the current terms of debate that call for a gigantic mish-mash of government intrusion and political payoffs that will only complicate our health care system further. Instead, on every possible front, we need to offer one bill that solves one problem.

We can all agree that one problem is the cost of insurance. So in one bill, provide the legislation that will allow insurance policies to be sold across state lines. That will increase competitiveness and drive down costs.  One problem, one bill.

Mandated coverage is a huge problem that increases coverage costs. States force insurance companies to cover everything from chiropractors to acupuncturists to massage therapists. We need one bill to reduce the number of these mandates and reduce the cost of your insurance coverage.

Being denied for a pre-existing condition is one problem we could all face. So in one bill, we need to allow groups such as AAA,  CostCo, and even church or community groups to pool their money and purchase health insurance plans for their members. By doing so, individuals would now be considered a part of a group plan which eliminates any problems with pre-existing conditions, since they would be under ERISA laws. This also allows portability of insurance as well.

Next up, you can’t read an article about our country’s health care problems without reading about the cost of drugs. That’s why we need one bill to help create drug coverage that is fiscally responsible. We could require drug companies that take federal money for research and development to sell their products at a certain price. No federal money, no constraint. To keep the cost of drugs down, they should be imported and re-imported. The government should also be allowed to purchase medications directly; this will drive the cost down considerably. One bill with these solutions will drive down the cost of drugs.

One last problem: lawyers. We all want to eliminate true waste in defensive medicine and documentation. Obama said he’d even work with Republicans on this one. That’s why we need one bill to eliminate contingency cases in malpractice suits. We can also create a loser-pays system to make lawsuits much less frivolous for trial lawyers. Contrary to what the president says, defensive medicine is the most costly problem in health care reform and President Obama is ignoring it like the plague. We can remove the lawyers from the doctor-patient relationship with one bill and make your health care much more affordable.

If any one of those bills are not passed, it will be much easier for all of us to understand who is obstructing meaningful reform. And it will be much harder for senators and congressman to hide from you the corporate and political masters they’ve really been serving.

Mr. President, you asked for new solutions that will work. Well, here they are. I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend your bipartisan meeting today. I’m working.

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Peter Weiss M.D., F.A.C.O.G., is Director and Founder of The Rodeo Drive Women's Health Center. He is also Assistant Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He was health care adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign. Dr Weiss is an Attending physician at Cedars Sinai and St Johns Health Centers
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