Thursday, July 03, 2008

MN-01 : Did Dr. Davis Talk to Congressman Cole about Pay Cuts ?

Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) is coming to Minnesota on Thursday, July 3rd with scheduled appearances on behalf of Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-06) and Republican endorsed First District candidate Dr. Brian Davis.

Externally, there will be much discussion about gas prices and the suggestion by Democrats to tax the oil companies. Bachmann contends any effort to tax oil companies will only backfire on the consumers. "Taxes are passed through, that's what businesses have to do, so it will be the American people that will pay and the price will continue to shoot up at the pump."

Hopefully, Internal discussions will be on another subject that is on Congress’ legislative calendar and also one that effects more than 44 million Americans directly and the rest of us indirectly.
That would be a Health Care costs.
Recently, the House had a chance to vote on the H.R. 6331: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. At hand was a 10.6% cut in Medicare’s payments to doctors. To compensate for this payment, the bill proposed trimming costs in the Medicare Advantage program. The basic question was whether the health care for the elderly and disabled should be shouldered by insurance companies or physicians. Overwhelmingly, the bill was approved 355 to 59 with Representatives Bachmann and Cole supporting the insurance companies.

Here’s the question for Congresswoman Bachmann, will the doctors respond - just as you suggest the oil companies would - and raise their fees to other groups … that would be me and everyone else not on Medicare. As a physician, Dr. Davis, who reported a salary of $411,720 in 2007 may be impacted if he accepts Medicare eligible patients. What would Dr. Davis recommend to his colleagues? The American Medical Association warned that smaller paydays would give doctors an incentive to stop taking Medicare patients. Further this is a political issue as it may hit politicians right where it hurts … in campaign contributions and support by Seniors. The Texas Medical Association Political Action Committee abruptly rescinded its endorsement of Senator John Cornyn after he failed to support the doctors in the Senate vote.

Why would this bill so be passed so overwhelmingly in the House but be stalled in the Senate. Obviously, the strength of the Insurance lobby versus the AMA lobby is at the crux. The House looked at it without the blinders of lobbyists and instead with a look toward fiscal sanity. After all, Medicare Advantage program, which uses private insurers; and these health plans get net payments that are approximately 12 percent higher than traditional Medicare's per capita costs. Duh, it should not be a battle between lobbyists but instead a vote for fiscally responsible government. PAYGO should be the Bible in every piece of legislation.

No doubt that we can all see the “pain at the pump” every time a gas station is passed. And we know that gas that was just under three dollars a year ago is now at the four dollar mark. Yet, the increase in health care insurance is not visible to everyone. Some may have coverage through work, some may decide they cannot afford it, and there are those of us who are self-insured. My insurance company notified me that my next renewal premium would be raised $104 … that’s per month … or $1248 per year. Trust me, my vehicles do not use that much gas in a year … and that is just the increase. This “pain” is not as evident as the seen at the “pump” but it is real. If your employer provides insurance, they are seeing the same impact. With gas, I have a few things I can do --- maintain my vehicle properly, consolidate trips, reduce trips, walk, etc --- but my choice for health insurance is limited. Pay it or chance it. In Fargo today, Barak Obama stated that the impact caused by the uninsured is $900 per year … that is borne by the others in higher premiums.

The insurance industry has found the southern Minnesota media market a relatively inexpensive buy and in the past have launched print ads in papers like the Mankato Free Press, television ads and radio ads targeting Congressman Tim Walz. Walz has stood by his convictions and continued to vote in support of SCHIP and Medicare programs. NOTE : Walz’s vote in favor of SCHIP while Bachmann and Cole opposed.

Congressmen are not “one issue” representatives … although Davis may want to talk about today’s issue-de jour – gas prices and drilling -- voters are concerned about a lot of other issues … the national debt, the Global War on Terrorism, jobs, global warming (Dr. Davis has already spoken on that issue "Let me be clear: I totally reject the man-made global warming religion,"), but Health Care is at the tops of everyone’s concerns.
Voters need to know where Dr. Davis stands on this important issue. Is he part of the Bachmann / Cole insurance-backing crowd --- or part of the Doctor-backing crowd --- or is he a visionary that believes there is a better system where insurance companies are not dictating doctor services and citizens can receive preventative and needed medical care at a reasonable price.

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