Power Lunch: Ron Kind's Healthcare Rhetoric

The rollout of the health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped, but one important aspect of health care reform that’s receiving less attention is its ability to reduce health care costs for all Americans.

JS Column by Ron Kind

Congressman Ron Kind is a master of words. In this recent column that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mr. Kind opens with the most flaccid defense of Obamacare imaginable.

Mr. Kind has been a staunch supporter of Obamacare from the start, as I will elaborate on in tomorrow’s La Crosse Tribune. But his most recent attempt at pointing out the silver lining is all garnish and no meat.

As always, Mr. Kind points out universally understood problems and potential big-government fixes, but no real substance about why those big-government fixes will work. Costs have been rising too fast. Doctors are rewarded for quantity of tests. Rampant readmissions.

Obamacare may well have contributed to recent slowed growth in national healthcare spending, but it’s more likely that the recession coupled with inflation, stagnant wages, and higher healthcare costsĀ have led to decisions by healthcare consumers to postpone or forget about non-immediate health issues. In other words, let the tumor grow because they can’t afford the doctor right now.

Mr. Kind rightly points out that bundling payments (that means paying a doctor after everything’s been done, not for each test, etc.) is a positive change. But it was Medicare’s flawed and unchanging payment model that made that the norm in healthcare to begin with, a testament to how government has corrupted the healthcare industry over the decades.

Mr. Kind also refers to value-based purchasing on behalf of hospital systems. “Value-based purchasing rewards providers that have top-quality scores and penalizes poor performers to encourage improved performance.”

Sounds a lot like No Child Left Behind.

Lastly Mr. Kind rightly says hospital readmissions need to be reduced somehow to ease demand on valuable bed space. “We could potentially make readmissions criteria more robust, leading to billions in additional savings.”

Now that 17,000 pages of Obamacare regulations have promulgated I can no longer to claim any kind of expertise in the area of the law. But what it sounds like Mr. Kind is saying is that the federal government should set stricter rules regarding what circumstances hospitals can re-admit a patient who may be concerned about a relapse, additional health problems, and so on.

That’s exactly the centralized, top-down, dictatorial, bureaucrat-empowering system that drives conservatives to oppose Obamacare so fiercely and why the law needs to be defeated.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.