Will Patients Choose Their Own Destiny? Dr. Donald Palmisano of The Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights

The health care debate will not abate. While the Democrats make legislative soup in committee, citizens need to know that there is still hope. They need to keep fighting.

Former president of the American Medical Association and current Director of The Coalition to Protect Patients Rights Dr. Donald Palmisano spoke with me at length about the situation before the American people. He addressed the issues in stark terms by stating, “The public option might rise from the dead in conference committee.” [For more, please listen to the most recent podcast.]

I asked him what people should do now. The answer was to continue to write…zip codes included so the Senator or Representative saw that you’re from his district or state. Simple advice, but these days, normal people are getting worn out. They have jobs. They have lives.

Unfortunately, both Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid canceled the October recess ostensibly to work. More likely, they don’t want to face their constituents. Either way, it’s always dangerous for America when Congress is “at work.”

Maybe you’re wondering why the American Medical Association endorsed a bill so clearly not in their or their patients’ interests. While it’s certainly not scientific, not one doctor I know is for either the House bill or the Baucus bill or any of the any number of parts and pieces being bandied about.
Dr. Palmisano had this to say, “The AMA made a serious mistake endorsing this bill.” He continued, “What we have in the bill, still, the price-fixing. The government decides what it’s going to pay you. Right now they’re lowering the fees by 20 to 40% over the next year. People are not going to be able to practice with that.” People [doctors] need to tell the government that “no we do not grant you the right to control our fees. You have a fiduciary duty to be prudent Prudent with the way the government spends but allow us to contract with patients for the difference.” He says, “You cannot endorse something on the generalities when the specifics go against your policies. It’s time, right now, to remove that endorsement. We have to remove that stamp of approval. We have given sanction to have them put chains on the medical profession. It will harm our patients. We need to remove that [endorsement].”

The mistake still being made, purposefully I believe, in the health care makeover debate is that there are only two views: government controlled insurance or nothing. Most doctors and patients, even those with insurance wish there was a sensible third way.

What needs to be done?

Not mandated insurance. Dr. Palmisano says that mandated insurance “ends up being a tax on people”. He also says that people should find it “to their advantage to buy insurance.”

Health Savings Accounts: These accounts makes patients “prudent purchasers” says Dr. Palmisano.

Portability: That is, people need to be able to take insurance with them when they change jobs or move. Like rollover plans for 401Ks.

Treat individuals like groups: Right now, individuals do not get the same rates as groups. It’s unfair–especially the young, healthy, and often, contracted workers.

Clearly publish fees: This is a consumer based solution.

Allow people to buy across state lines: Not only do states have wildly different mandates, the same insurance company in two different states can have wildly different coverage and rates based on those mandates.

Liability Insurance reform: “This could save billions,” according to Dr. Palmisano.

Bottom line, there are solutions to reforming health care, but the bills sitting in the House and Senate are not the solutions Americans want. People need to continue letting their Representatives and Senators know what they want.

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