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  Friday January 30th, 2015    

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Medicare for all (02/09/2014)
From: Dr. Mark L. Martin

There is plenty that I agree on with Representative Drazkowski concerning MNSure, but I feel he is missing the point of what is trying to be accomplished. As a physician in Independent Private Practice, as well as a cancer survivor and present cancer patient, I feel that I can offer some insight from my perspective. I know from first-hand experience how pre-existing conditions and massive medical bills can affect families.

I admit that the Affordable Care Act/Obama Care/MNSure is not what I wanted. It has some very good provisions, such as covering pre-existing conditions, allowing older children to continue on their parents insurance, and the inability of insurance companies to drop a patient due to a new diagnoses.

Do you really think the free market has worked while millions of people are unable to afford health care? The Health Care Exchange was developed to encourage the free market by allowing patients to compare coverage from one carrier to another, free market approach, which you seem to oppose. We have the highest insurance costs in the MNSure system, because the free market was not able to shield us from the monopoly of Mayo Clinic.

This is in direct contrast to the Twin Cities, with lots of competition and some of the lowest health care insurance rates in the state. Using the free market system, see how affordable your premiums will be on the open market when you turn 65, 70, etc.

My wife has had 3 (three) hip surgeries and I, a present cancer patient, was stuck with “pre-existing condition(s)” up until January 1. They have increased their charges by at least 10%-20% yearly for the last 7 to 8 years; that meant that we had to pay whatever Blue Cross charges, or go without insurance. Ten years ago, our oldest daughter was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor. She was referred to Mayo Clinic for possible pancreatic cancer. She had no insurance, and Mayo rescheduled her initial consult until she could obtain a loan of $5,000. Surgery was recommended, and she was told that she would need $42,000 up front to cover the cost. Negotiations allowed her to have surgery with only half down. This was very hard financially for our family for a number of years. Unfortunately, there are many people that go bankrupt over similar circumstances.

Many times in practice I write a prescription or provide a treatment that I feel is medically necessary, only to be over-ruled by an insurance carrier who has never talked to or examined the patient.

Many of your free market fixes do nothing to help the overall health care costs. I agree with the idea of torte or lawsuit reform. But, California and Texas “which have had 40 and 10 years of lawsuit reform”, have not decreased overall health care costs. I agree with allowing insurance companies to sell across State lines. As of this time, no out-of-state insurer has ever applied to sell insurance in states that allow it. Health Savings Accounts are a great idea, but huge numbers of patients cannot afford them.

Patients should have the access and ability to choose our own care. All private insurance carriers restrict access to their “preferred providers.” While you can pick who you want to go to, not all services may be covered “out of network.” The most liberal plan in the country is Medicare, which allows you to go to any physician that accepts Medicare.

If you are truly for patient choice, why not look at some of the following free market ideas that have been shot down. An “Any Willing Provider” bill would allow any physician to be a preferred provider for any insurance plan if they met the professional requirements. Tax breaks to encourage physicians to enter independent private practice, where facts show health care costs are lower and patient satisfaction is much higher. The major drawback presently to independent practice is that we receive 30% less in reimbursement than physicians in large groups due to the group’s ability to negotiate higher rates.

You should push to allow Medicare Part D to negotiate prices with drug companies. It is illegal under present law. Look at separating hospitals and medical clinics. Facts show when hospitals buy up clinics, the overall health care costs increase.

I am tired of all of the political in-fighting. Health care should not be liberal/conservative, Republican/Democrat, old vs. young fight. This should not be about technology, practice guidelines, or theoretical ideals, but should be about people and their health care. We need to have some real innovative ideas that have a chance at making things better.

We have devolved into a perverted form of a Free Market system that does not work unless you have the money to afford it. We need to look at MNSure and its faults, an imperfect program that needs change and we all need to be part of this growth, so that we can have good affordable health care for ALL Americans. It will take elected officials who look outside the box and coming up with new, innovative ideas, and not recycled ideologies that have been proven in practice not to work. I do not want to go back to the time when a patient asked: How much for care? The answer, “How much do you have?”.

My Vote – Medicare For All! 


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