GREEN BAY - The government reports roughly 46 million Americans have nohealth insurance.
Their costs often become a burden to others in the systemthrough higher insurance premiums and medical rates. The intent ofthe health care reform plan aims to change that by promotingwellness, prevention and competition, and overall stabilizingcosts. But at what cost?
"It's a big budget buster," said U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-6thDist. He points out the Government Budget Office estimates the costof the House Bill under consideration at nearly $1 trillion over 10years.
"It can't be that we're all going to send the bill to Uncle Sambecause there is no Uncle Sam at the end of the day, we're allbehind the other side of that curtain and we've got to pay itback," said Petri.
U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-8th Dist., acknowledges the cost toimplement reform, but says 'savings' through better efficienciesand preventing waste, fraud and abuse of the system will offsetthat amount.
"I think we can drive down the cost of insurance premiums bycreating a larger purchasing pool for small businesses," Kagensaid. "I want insurance companies to begin to sell a standardinsurance policy an insurance benefit policy that becomes a federalstandard."
The plan also calls for a surtax on the wealthy, those makingover $350-thousand a year, to bring in hundreds of billionsmore.
"If there are efficiencies to be achieved maybe what we shoulddo is let’s realize the efficiencies first and then use thosedollars to expand coverage and so on," asked Petri.
Both congressmen point to ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Valuein Appleton which has been successful in rewarding providers fordelivering quality care at lower costs for its patients. Kagen saysit's a model the reform plan should embrace to lower costs.
"Some estimates are that the insurance premiums might come downby 20-22 percent over a ten year period," said Kagen.
While Petri says ThedaCare proves major government reform is notneeded.
"That's how the market works in a lot of other areas and wereally need to be moving in the direction of making that work moreeffectively in the health care area," said Petri.
Petri admits some government involvement may be needed to getcare for a few, but he feels government spending overall on healthcare could be reduced with better efficiencies in place. Kagen saysreform standards need to be put into place to make it workeffectively.
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