Teapublican Lie #16.

“Cutting Medicaid and Medicare will save money.”

Anyone who would say this is either lying or doesn’t understand how the healthcare industry works. 

If you kick millions of people off of Medicaid and raise the cost to seniors for Medicare, they will put off going to the doctor as long as they can. Minor ailments then become major ailments. When they’re finally forced to seek help, they have no place to go except the Emergency Room where the costs of treatment can be as much as 100 times that of a doctor’s office or clinic. Since most hospitals are mandated by law to accept all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, the costs are passed along to patients who have health insurance.

So the Teapublicans who don’t want to help pay for someone else’s healthcare treatments through an efficient, well-managed government program will actually wind up paying much more through the rise in premiums for their health insurance policies, through increased taxes, or both.

Our nation’s healthcare costs are already four times the cost of healthcare in other advanced nations. Cutting Medicaid and Medicare will only make things worse.

“Obamacare” (more precisely, Nixoncare, Dolecare or Romneycare, since they proposed the program first) will definitely help. It will offer healthcare insurance to 55 million people who are currently uninsured, and it will institute some cost containment measures to an industry that has seen costs rise at a rate more than ten times the rate of inflation.

But it doesn’t go far enough.

According to a hospital CEO whose opinion I respect, this nation needs to return to a form of managed care (Health Maintenance Organizations). Under the system, the healthcare providers would be charged with keeping us healthy. The providers would also be charged with following best practices, which have been shown to produce the best outcomes, and limiting unnecessary or unproven care.  (Or, in Teapublican terms, “death panels” with the responsibility to review extreme procedures that are proposed for patients with terminal diseases.)

This is one of the most important steps in solving our healthcare crisis as noted in a 1990s study by the MIT Sloan School of Management.  That study showed that, in the US, more than 70 percent of all healthcare expenditures occur in the last six months of a patient’s life. In other words, we tend to ignore our health until something goes drastically wrong.  Then we spare no expense to prove that the diagnosis of a fatal condition is essentially correct.

It’s clear that we need an entirely new approach to healthcare and “Obamacare” is an important first step.  Repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will only make things worse. So will the other Teapublican proposals.  We can’t throw the poor off of Medicaid, cut Medicare for the elderly, maintain our out-of-control health insurance system and cut the deficit.

The healthcare industry and the economy are like a large, overinflated balloon. If you push one place, it expands somewhere else.  To make improvements, you have to change the entire entity at once.