The second presidential debate was frustrating to me as a voter and physician. There was so little time spent on health care.
Medicare and Medicaid are driving our budget insolvency. Both candidates have enumerated in other venues and on their websites their “solutions” to the failing Affordable Care Act. Interested voters should go to the candidates’ websites to educate themselves.
There was also the obvious bias of the PolitiFact website. Run by a Tampa Bay newspaper that has endorsed Clinton, the “fact checkers” were flat-out wrong on several counts.
And we should all strongly encourage Chris Wallace in the final debate on Oct. 19 to stick to policy issues. It was puzzling to me that Trump’s “tape” was too late theoretically to be included in the list of questions voters could submit or vote on to be asked of the candidates — yet nearly half of the debate was spent on it. So much for democracy and the people’s voice — which the commission claimed was going to be responsible for the order of questions and which questions got included at all.
Salacious 11-year-old comments may be newsworthy for supermarket tabloids, but the American public deserves better.
During the one question that came up on Obamacare, Hillary Clinton agreed with a questioner in the audience that premiums and deductibles for ACA exchange plans were getting too high. She touted her plan to make the plans more affordable, but warned that repealing the ACA would bring back the days of insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and charging women higher premiums than men.
“Let’s fix what’s broken about [the ACA], but let’s not throw it away and give it back to the insurance companies,” she said. Regrettably, her website suggests following a road to insolvency by calling for illegal immigrants to enter the exchanges, possibly getting tax credits, and “Medicare for all.”
For his part, Trump called the ACA “a total disaster,” citing premium increases of roughly 70 percent, an assertion that the website PolitiFact calls half-true, because while some plans are raising rates that much, not all are. A less expensive approach to making insurance coverage more affordable, Trump said, would be letting insurers sell policies across state lines.
“When we get rid of those lines, you have competition and we’ll be able to keep pre-existing conditions and help people that … don’t have money because we are going to have people protected,” Trump said. Giving states block grants for Medicaid — a policy supported by congressional Republicans — would provide for the financially strapped, according to Trump.
Trump also accused his opponent of favoring a single-payer health care system “somewhat similar to Canada.”
“Hillary Clinton has been after this for years,” he said. “Obamacare was the first step.” Sadly, he’s right. Government health care has been financially inefficient. Medicaid and the Veterans Administration also exemplify the poor and inconsistent quality that exists in a government-run health care system. And neither candidate addressed the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs.
Here are 10 real health care issues that affect Americans every day — and are worth spending time on between now and the election:
1.) Rising prescription costs
2.) Prescription opioid addiction
3.) Medicare insolvency
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4.) Crisis in veterans’ care
5.) Costs and privacy problems with electronic health records (EHR)
6.) Rising costs to patients and businesses for Affordable Care Act plans
7.) Medicaid costs rising with attendant poor quality
8.) Lack of adult primary care providers
9.) Tort reform to minimize defensive medicine — that’s the practice of physicians ordering tests and procedures principally to reduce perceived threats of medical malpractice liability
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10.) Crippling cost of medical education
Mark Twain once said, “There are basically two types of people: People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” I would add, “especially in Washington, D.C.”
It is clear Hillary Clinton represents the latter, and that the status quo is financially and morally bankrupt. Health care is one area where these candidates differ vastly. Americans know it. Like many in my profession and this country, I am looking to the road less traveled.
Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist in the Washington, D.C., area, is CEO of Foxhall Cardiology PC and a regular contributor to LifeZette.