Friday, October 10, 2008

MN-01 : MMA picks Doctor over Patient Advocate

The Rochester Post Bulletin has reported two endorsements for Minnesota's First District : The Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee announced its endorsement of Congressman Tim Walz for a second two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives while the Minnesota Medical Association endorsed Republican challenger Dr. Brain Davis.

The VFW endorsement should not surprise anyone as Walz has been graded highly for his work … including most recently earning an A+ rating from the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans for America . The quote in the article sums it up best :
"He hasn't just served the veterans of the First District of Minnesota. He's served the veterans of the United States of America."

Davis’ endorsment by the political arm of the Minnesota Medical Association was modestly surprising.

Based on Walz’ record, he should have earned their support.
After all, Walz was a co-sponsor of the recently enacted Mental Health Parity legislation that the MMA wanted.
Walz worked to enact H.R. 6331: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008; had Walz failed it would have resulted in a 10.6% cut in Medicare’s payments to doctors.
Walz held two forums in coordination with MMA as part of his efforts to reform the way that Congress funds Medicare.
Oh, and let’s not forget, Walz unequivocal support for SCHIP designed to serve the health care of low-income children.

But that’s Walz … advocating for health care.
Health care is a major issue for Minnesotans. A recent report, Private Health Insurance Cost Trends in Minnesota, 2007 , states that Minnesotans saw the largest premium increase since 2004 with an 8 percent jump which was 33 % higher than the national increase. The largest cost drivers were physician services which accounted for about 45 % of the spending growth.

Walz does have his supporters including Dr. Sylvester Sterioff, a retired Mayo Clinic doctor, who endorsed Walz stating "He seeks our advice and has an openness to receive information to bring a better and fairer health care system to our country, which we sorely need."

It might be easy to assume the Davis got the endorsement becaause he “knows” medicine, yet I have to wonder if it isn’t his support for the insurance industry and maintaining the current tax policy.

Davis has stated a desire to eliminate state regulations that mandate coverage for certain illnesses and conditions and open market competition across state lines. Both of these concepts do not indicate a strong desire to advocate for the patient (and the taxpayer).

As the country sees the national debt breaking Ten Trillion Dollars, it is obvious that a change in tax rates are required. Somehow, a doctor such as Brian Davis who reported a salary over $411,000 would be in the category of high income wage earners that would be targeted … I wonder how much the MMA endorsement was to send someone to Washington not to advocate for patients but to stymie a change in the tax rates.

No comments: