Reps. Mike Ritze and Doug Cox, the only medical doctors serving in the Legislature, say they are leery of health care reform plans being developed by President Barack Obama’s administration.
That’s somewhat to be expected. Both Ritze and Cox are Republicans; Obama is a Democrat.
Cox, an emergency room physician in Grove, concedes the present medical care system must be improved.
“Going to a doctor with a simple sore throat and leaving with a bill over $100 is not acceptable – it is putting access to medical care out of reach for many Oklahomans,” Cox said in a statement issued with Ritze, of Broken Arrow.
“However, this is a very complicated issue. These problems did not develop overnight yet it seems, as with many issues facing his administration, the President is trying to force a ‘reform’ through Congress in a very rapid manner without sufficient detail regarding long-term effects,” Cox said. “Health care reform must be addressed, but in a systematic, methodical manner with greater involvement by those who are skilled in delivering care.”
Ritze said the reforms being advocated by Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are unlikely to improve care or reduce prices.
“The ‘new’ blueprint for health care will fail for the same reason the current system is failing: It violates the basic laws of economics,” Ritze said. “When the apparent price of something goes down, demand goes up.”
Proposals that would have residents paying essentially the same amount for coverage, regardless of actual risk and medical need. As a result, Ritze said, demand for medical care will skyrocket and the system will be clogged with nonurgent-care patients, displacing those with serious medical conditions and increasing waiting times.
“Collective prepayment drives up demand because healthier citizens feel the need to ‘get their money’s worth’ out of the system,” Ritze said. “Ultimately, that will compound the doctor shortage in states like Oklahoma.”
He said the number of U.S. medical graduates entering family medicine and internal medicine has fallen by half over the past decade. The situation will not improve under a system that prevents pricing that covers actual cost and allows minor profit, Ritze said.
Other nations that have experimented with universal health care are losing good doctors, he said.
Cox suggests getting back to the “primary care concept” where every American has a personal family physician/
“This has been shown in study after study to reduce cost,” Cox said. “The present system requires too many clerks working in health care that are not involved in patient care. The administrative paper/computer work required is a major cost driver in the system.”
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau