To the editor:
Since Congressman Walden has not replied to our recent emails we are presenting our concerns regarding his support for Tom Price as Director of Health and Human Services to his constituents. Tom Price has sponsored a bill called Empowering Patients First Act of 2015.
One might assume that this bill represents a roadmap to the future of health care if Tom Price is confirmed. To begin with, we question whom the bill actually empowers and whom does it put first.
It would empower Medicare to issue vouchers that patients can use to pay for their health care and it also would empower physicians to charge patients directly for what those vouchers may fall short of.
In addition, it would empower the federal government to give a fixed amount to the states to cover Medicaid and the high risk (patients with chronic conditions that use the health care system frequently). In order to show cost savings at the federal level, we assume that the amount given to the states will fall short of what is needed.
This kind of shifting means one of two things; the high risk and Medicaid patients will see their benefits rationed or everyone will see less money available for local public schools, roads, bridge repair, law enforcement and other public services.
Rationing care results in patients having to seek the most expensive care (Emergency Room) which increases the cost of health care for everyone.
Tom Price’s plan also empowers employers to potentially pay less of their employee’s health premiums by capping what is required.
Furthermore, Mr. Price’s bill empowers the insurance companies to deny coverage if one has a pre-existing condition and goes without coverage for a length of time. To be fair, Tom Price’s plan actually does empower those patients who can afford it to take more money out of their paycheck to fund Health Service Accounts to help cover those uncovered expenses that his ideas will undoubtedly expose patients to. As local health care providers in this community for over 30 years, we have seen all kinds of changes in the health care arena, some good, some not so good. Tom Price’s bill (google it for a more complete summary) represents the worst that we have seen. If you agree, let Congressman Walden know.
Kathy Schwartz, RN
John Schwartz, MD