Monday, July 16, 2007

Francis Miller Questions the 208 Commission Process

In this July 8, 2007 OpEd in the Rocky Mountain News, Francis Miller raises some troubling questions about the objectivity of the 208 Commission's process in selecting health care reform proposals:
Promoting socialized medicine

I am increasingly concerned that the Denver dailies are assisting in a not too subtle attempt to shape public opinion to be receptive to schemes being concocted by Colorado's 208 Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care. Initiated by a governor and a legislature that are both clueless as to how to solve the health care problem, this commission has deftly created a situation whereby two obviously unacceptable proposals are being put up against two proposals which would essentially mandate the uninsured buy health care insurance. This is classic railroading when you are forced to pick from options that have been selected to lead to a preordained outcome. Is there any question in your mind that this Commission is going to call for some kind of mandated insurance similiar to Massachusetts and California?

As an aside, an article on July 1, 2007 in the NY Times by Pam Belluck, noted that Massachusetts, (with a population of nearly 6.5 million people) has, since 2006, been able to get only 130,000 people into their new scheme, and that required the insurance be free or subsidized. The rest of the uninsured in the state have said, thanks, but no thanks.

This whole endeavor is a not so veiled attempt to solve the State's rising Medicaid cost crisis and the hospital's and doctor's collections problems by putting as many people as they can herd into a corral and force them to buy insurance. The problem is that federal ERISA plans in the state are not going to participate and you can bet that PERA and other governmental employee organizations are not going to touch this skunk with a ten foot pole. If the State unwittingly destroys the individual and small group health insurance market they will create a highly regressive system with many unintended consequences.

Recent editorials by members of the Commission are little-by-little revealing their socialistic philosophical core and their nearly complete lack of understanding of market-based economics. To say that the market has failed is to ignore the role government has played over the past 30 years in meddling in the health care market. You would have to go way back to before the 1970s to find any semblance of a functioning health care market. This is tantamount to the federal government polluting Rocky Flats and then proclaiming that nature doesn't work any more. We are on a path to socialize the remainder of 16%, soon to be 20%, of the US economy. If the hospitals and doctors think that forcing the uninsured to buy health insurance is not one more step toward having their fees and practices regulated by a government bureaucracy they are mistaken. Global warming has less of a chance of melting the glaciers than the creeping vine of liberal Democratic socialism has of turning the medical profession into proxy employees of the government. You reap what you sow guys!!!

Fran Miller has been a management consultant for 25 years and he has a graduate degree in health policy from the University of Colorado’s Graduate School of Public Affairs. Miller is the past president of the Colorado Business Coalition for Health, a two term member of the Colorado Legislature’s Interim Committee on Health Care. He was appointed by governors Richard Lamm and Roy Romer to two terms as vice chairman of the Colorado Health Data Commission. He is presently writing a book on health care in the 21st century.