For Better or for Worse: Nation Has New Health Law

CONGRESS AND THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION HAVE THEIR HEALTH LAW. Whether this new law serves the citizens of this country for the better or for the worse will not be known for several years into the future.

I suspect that many of our elected officials in the House and Senate do not fully understand the major elements of the health bill that has just become law. I believe I am also on safe ground to state the opinion that few of these “servants of the people” actually took the 2,700+ pages of the bill and perused them carefully before deciding how to cast their vote.

Therein lies the rub. First, these legislators have exempted themselves and their Congressional staffs from the health mandates that they are imposing on the remainder of the country. They know this insulates themselves and their families from whatever negative consequences develop from the parts of the new law which prove detrimental to the healthcare system. As an American citizen of good standing, I find it sad that our political leaders deliberately take themselves out of the legislative solution they consider best for the nation.

Second, in coming years, none of us should be surprised when various unintended consequences of this health law become obvious and troublesome. Expect these same senators and representatives to tell news reporters that “I didn’t know that was in the bill,” or “I didn’t understand how this specific mandate would cause health providers to change the way they practiced medicine.”

Forgive me for being skeptical about these developments. Like many of you, early last year I was hopeful that the goal of improving our nation’s health system would include a robust exploration of innovative ways to organize healthcare. Healthcare’s “best practices” examples, such as Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, and Geisinger Health, would be studied by policy-makers and legislators. As part of the health bill, seed funding to encourage similar “health innovation incubators” would be authorized with the goal of covering more people at lower cost while achieving improved health outcomes.

On this point, I am not aware of any provision in the new law that financially encourages a health system, hospital, or physician group to experiment with innovative ways to organize and deliver healthcare. I am willing to be proven wrong on this point. If you know of such a provision, contact me at our editorial offices. In the meantime, like most of you, I am reserving judgment about whether this health law is good for our country. Like the residents of Missouri, I say “Show me.”


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