Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Latest Embarassment from Rep. Scott Garrett

Just received an email from Representative Scott Garrett (New Jersey's 5th Congressional District). This email is a perfect example of how some one who is supposed to be a leader looking out for the interests of his constituency, is instead a shill for entrenched businesses who will be impacted by a change in the status quo for health care.
I've added some comments in italics to show the hypocrisy...

Health Care Update Take My New Health Care Survey
August 18, 2009

Health care in this country is built around the doctor-patient relationship. Doctors devote a great deal of time and money to their medical education, and patients seek out their expertise. Unlike in England, where there is little-to-no choice in which doctor you see, patients in America develop a trust with their doctor, often times remaining with the same practice for decades or even generations.
Completely untrue - since all doctors in England are participants in the Health Care system the patient has the ability to choose any doctor he prefers. The limits in which doctors a patient can see are actually in the present US system, where each private health plan has it's own roster of doctors.

I believe all this could change, however, if some in Congress get their way and impose a one-size-fits-all government-regulated health care system.

In my opinion, the health care bill currently in Congress would disrupt this important relationship by placing a series of Washington bureaucrats between you and your doctor. I feel this bill could create dozens of new agencies, programs, and offices to regulate your health care, and that number will only grow as the plan expands.

In this bill, government bureaucrats could potentially prohibit your family doctor from seeing patients who are not enrolled in a government-regulated public option health care plan.
The only way you would be prevented from seeing your doctor is if your doctor does not participate in the plan you are enrolled in - whether that is a private plan or the public option.

Under my understanding of the bill, these same bureaucrats could then turn around and revoke seniors’ choice in Medicare plans by requiring them to use the government plan.
There is nothing in the bill that forces seniors to use a government plan instead of Medicare (the statement makes no sense since Medicare is already a "government" plan). Notice the weasel wording "Under my understanding of the bill.." - this is obvious mis-information meant to alarm seniors. You would think that a congressman would actually read the bill he is stating opinions about!

A new “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” if implemented, could determine what health coverage you’ll be allowed to purchase, and could potentially tax you if the coverage you buy does not meet its standards or have an “adequate” list of participating doctors.
There is nothing in the bill that will "determine what health coverage you’ll be allowed to purchase". The bill actually sets minimum standards for four levels of coverage, and also allows individuals to buy supplementary coverage above and beyond these if desired. Notice how he adds in the inflammatory and false "tax you" phrase. The reality is that there is a provision that if you don't enroll you will be charged a tax penalty - remember the goal is universal coverage, and it only works if virtually everyone is participating and spreading the insurance risk.

The bureaucrats could decide how much your doctors and hospitals will be paid, and could offer no board of review or other recourse for doctors to appeal their decision.
As in private plans, the government plan will set a reimbursement schedule for doctors and hospitals. Just like with private plans, doctors and hospitals are free to "vote with their feet", and not participate if reimbursement levels are too low.

In the end, I believe any government plan will crowd out private insurance, and with it, any competition or need for innovation.
An incredible statement, given that the only way a government option will crowd out private insurance is if private insurers don't deliver what patients value. Truly a bizarre assertion from some one who is trying to make the case that only the private sector can innovate and deliver value.

President Obama recently told the American Medical Association, “To most Americans, you are the health care system. Americans - me included - just do what you recommend. That is why I will listen to you and work with you to pursue reform that works for you.”

I couldn't agree more, and I don’t understand, then, why the President would support a plan that would place a massive bureaucracy between practicing physicians and their patients.
Again, throwing around the inflammatory "massive bureaucracy" assertion while the real fact is that government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the VA system typically have 30% less overhead than private plans.

Some in Washington seem to think that health care reform simply affects them. We know this isn’t true, though. Health care reform will profoundly affect health care professionals in their ability to practice medicine and save lives. I have spent much time this summer meeting with doctors, hospital administrators, specialists, primary care providers, patients’ advocacy groups, and others who have a stake in this issue to find out what works best for them, and not just for government officials in Washington.
Representative Garrett has only been listening to stakeholders who will profit from having the incredibly wasteful and expensive present system continue. These are the organizations who fund his campaigns, not his constituents who he should be looking out for.

American health care is by no means perfect, and there is need for reform. We should not, however, throw the good out with the bad. My plan for health care would help to cut the cost of private insurance, encourage medical and pharmaceutical innovation, give small businesses greater freedom to enroll in association health plans, and protect doctors from frivolous tort lawsuits in order to keep prices affordable for patients. By doing so, we will make health care and health insurance more affordable for all Americans without bureaucratizing the doctor-patient relationship or rationing primary care.
Here he spells out his "plan for health care" - which is to do nothing! Throwing around the apple pie statements ("cut the cost", "encourage innovation", "greater freedom", "protect doctors", "keep prices affordable") while including nothing concrete. Unfortunately, he is the epitome of the Republican stance of health care reform obstruction.

The American people deserve the freedom to choose the health care that is best for their families. I believe we need meaningful health care reform that would increase accessibility, decrease costs, and improve on what is already the best health care system in the world. In the coming weeks I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to try to improve the bill. In the meantime, I welcome your comments. I have set up a special email account so that you can share your thoughts and concerns about health care reform at:

Should you have any further questions or comments about this or any legislative issue, please do not hesitate to contact me in my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-4465. Also, please visit the health care page of my website and sign up for my e-newsletter with the latest updates.


Scott Garrett
Member of Congress

Truly an embarrassment - the do-nothing Congressman from NJ's 5th District, Scott Garrett!

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