US Senator John Barrasso (R-Wy) took a few minutes out of a hectic schedule to speak to Virginia Right! and a few other bloggers on a conference call this afternoon. Senator Barrasso is one of only two Republican physicians in the US Senate, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) being the other. Both plan to attend tomorrow’s Health Care Summit with President Obama.
“As you know, we are heading to the White House tomorrow for the summit that the President has called. He said it was a bipartisan effort and he urged the Republicans to attend and he urged everyone to attend in good faith. I absolutely took him at that and was very privileged that Senator (Mitch) McConnell (R-Ky) would see fit to invite the two doctors, Senator Tom Coburn and me to attend and be part of this. I think we are going to bring a unique experience. We can offer perspective on how many of these things are going to effect patients,” said Senator Barrasso.
“I do have some concerns now that Harry Reid has said ‘My way or the highway’ using reconciliation,” he continued.
Senator Barrasso expressed his concerns that President Obama, after calling for bipartisanship, he brings his major legislative piece which looks to be the Senate bill with even more spending. He (Obama) seems to be saying this is what it’s going to be.
Question: President Obama has been saying he invites new ideas, but when the Republicans bring ideas, he (Obama) doesn’t even listen to them. Why will this summit be any different?
Answer: “I don’t know what the President is thinking on this, but he doesn’t seem very open to Republican ideas.” Barrasso continued that the Senate bill would take $500 Billion out of Medicare for our Seniors, not to save Medicare which is going broke in the year 2017, but to start a whole new government program, with $500 billion more in higher taxes. And people that have insurance will see their premiums go up.
Neither Democrats or Republicans believe this bill will save $100 billion as Obama claims.
Question: President Obama wants to control prices that Insurance Companies charge. Will this lead to financial stability issues with these companies?
Answer: Senator Barrasso posed that question to the Insurance Commissioner in Wyoming and he said his job is to make sure the Insurance Companies remain solvent and will be able to pay claims. Price fixing is not necessarily in the best interest of the American public.
“The problem isn’t that we tax too little, it’s that we spent too much. And to me, the debt is the threat,” Barrasso continued. “These guys are looking to raise revenue rather than cut spending all the way.”
“It really is time to start over. We do need Health Care Reform, but this isn’t it. The American people have overwhelmingly rejected the House and Senate bills. 85% of Americans are happy with their coverage, the issue is with the price.”
Question: Is this an Obama Infomercial? Should Republicans attend?
Answer: “I think we should. You are invited by the President to meet and talk about a topic and it is the right thing to do. To go and to listen and to talk. We want to present our ideas, let the American people hear it and see why it’s the right way to go.”
On Health Insurance Company profits, the Senator said that it is likely that a quote from Joe Rago’s column in the Wall Street Journal would likely be brought up tomorrow. Speaking to Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint:
It’s hard to see how WellPoint could be to blame for surging health spending, Mrs. Braly says, when 85 cents out of every premium dollar or more “is paid out in the actual cost of care, doctors, hospitals, suppliers, drugs, devices.” Confiscating the 2009 profits of the entire insurance industry would pay for two days of U.S. health care.
Senator Barrasso said that tort reform should be included, as well as shopping across state lines for insurance. A lot of money is spent on Defensive Medicine. The tests don’t make anyone healthier, but protect the doctor based on court cases. Health Savings Accounts should be a major part of any reform. The reform should me patient cantered, not government centered or insurance company centered. Health Savings Accounts is one of the ways to put patients in charge of their money. The Obama plan will disallow using HSA’s for over the counter medicines like Hay Fever. Democrats seem to be clamping down on HSA’s.
HSA’s would cause patients ask questions about the cost of procedures. Is one place less expensive than another? Now, if you tell a patient he needs a MRI for a non life threatening issue, the first question asked is “Will my insurance cover it?”, while a HSA will most likely elicit the question “How much does it cost?” first. You want people to ask how much does it cost first.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day.