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WASHINGTON — It’s called a “courtesy hearing,” but Representative Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, can expect some of his Senate interrogators to get a little rough.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon and six-term GOP congressman from Georgia, will appear before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to answer questions on Wednesday. It’s a courtesy hearing because a separate panel, the Senate Finance Committee, will actually vote on his nomination.


Still, there will be a lot to discuss.

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  • Malpractice lawsuits drain many millions of dollars which could otherwise be spent caring for patients. The threat of malpractice strongly encourages “defensive medicine” , meaning over diagnosis and excess worrying beyond evidence based care. The annual (!) cost to the healthcare system is estimated to be 50-200 Billion (yes, billion) dollars. Unfortunately, only 8% of patients harmed in the process of medical care are compensated. This is the reason why the present system is inadequate and need to be replaced.
    In my opinion, medicine should follow the example of the manufacturing industry, who long ago created the effective and efficient “Workman’s Comp”. We should create “Patient’s Comp”, a administrative process where patients harmed in the process of medical care are examined, and treated and compensated according to a set fee schedule. This is a rational, less expensive system which encourages reporting of errors and therefore learning from errors and fosters future prevention of errors.
    The only people opposed to such a rational system are lawyers who presently reap tremendous rewards from people’s suffering and get 40% of the awards given to patients. That has to stop. A reasonable, effective system such as “Patient’s Comp” is long overdue

  • The HHS runs the department that surveys and reviews long term care facilities. We continue to see failing nursing facilities 30 years after the implementation of the Nursing Home Reform Act otherwise known as OBRA. Nursing home owners tend to vote Republican because they want these federal regulations reduced. I wish they would ask how Dr. Price is going to address this healthcare crisis in this forgotten population.

  • How can there by any honest, useful debate on any issue when one side begins the debate with all the falsehoods built into just this article’s section on Medicare? The author writes (asking Dr. Price):

    “You have proposed major changes to Medicare. How can you do so without leaving Americans vulnerable? Trump has promised not to gut Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older, some younger people with disabilities, and those with permanent kidney failure. But Price, and much of the Republican leadership, believes changes are necessary to avoid bankruptcy. There is likely to be strong opposition, even among those who support repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The National Physicians Alliance, one of the doctors groups that opposes Price’s nomination, has said his interest in moving to “privatize Medicare would end the healthcare guarantee for our nation’s 57 million seniors and drastically hurt our most elderly and vulnerable patients.”

    “We’d like to know how Price plans to alter the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, which can be changed without ACA repeal. And how will he protect the low-income elderly, if his plan to provide them with vouchers is adopted? Lastly, will Price continue to oppose allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies — a bid to lower drug prices —even though Trump has said he would support the idea?”

    In those two paragraphs, there are eight outright lies or statements so misleading that they can be considered lies:

    1. There is absolutely no basis for the statement that “proposed major changes to Medicare (would be) leaving Americans vulnerable.” Major changes to 1965 Medicare were made in 1972, 1985, 1997, 2003, 2010 and 2015. To write those outrageously inflammatory words about future changes is pure propaganda Mediscare. (As an aside, everyone of reason on all political sides agrees that Americans under 50 will be totally vulnerable in their senior years if no reform is made.)
    2. It is jingoistic to write that people think “changes are necessary to avoid bankruptcy.” The reality is that doing nothing, keeping current Medicare law just as it is, results in the following:
    — Part B premiums will shortly (under 5 years) exceed $200 a month for people newly entering the Medicare program (and those not on Social Security and a few other groups)
    — Part C premiums will rise as premium support falls, making what has been primarily a program for the lower middle class a program only for the middle and upper middle class (rich people get private supplemental insurance). This will drive some people back into traditional Medicare (where they cost more per capita than on Part C) or drive them into becoming dual-eligible Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries (which costs the government in total much more per person)
    — Doctors will receive no raises after 2024, forcing more and more to drop out
    — Hospitals will have their already low rates cut by 13% in 2028 with larger cuts to follow year after year as the HI Trust Fund can spend only what it takes in in payroll taxes (Medicare actuaries estimate that this will lead to the closure of many hospitals, harming everyone in addition to those on Medicare)
    3. There is no proposal to “privatize Medicare;” politicians and others like the author of this article who make that statement either do not even know what the word “privatize” means (no investor would be interested in taking Medicare — with its $50 Trillion unfunded liability — private) or just engaging in more jingoistic Mediscare
    4. There is no Medicare reform proposal anywhere that “would end the healthcare guarantee for our nation’s 57 million seniors.” That is a lie two different ways. Nothing changes the Medicare guarantee. There are not 57,000,000 seniors today (if the author means sometime in the future, there are many more than 57,000,000).
    5. There is nothing proposed that would “drastically hurt our most elderly and vulnerable patients.” This is just the same nonsense deceitful propaganda as discussed in lie number 1 above. And the major change proposed by Dr. Price and dozens of others for the last 22 years, when two Democrats came up with the idea in the Medicare context (100% Medicare premium support in 2024 replacing the 45% Medicare premium support that will be in force in 2024 under current law) would not affect anyone currently on Medicare that does not want premium support
    6. As to how Dr. Price will “protect the low-income elderly,” there is no proposal to change anything in Social Security Extra Help/LIS or the Medicare Savings Program (and we don’t like being called “elderly,” you senior hater)
    7. This is the biggest and most deceitful lie of all. There is no “plan to provide (people on Medicare) with vouchers.” There has been no such plan by anyone related to Medicare since one by Democrat Richard Gephardt in 1981
    8. It would be interesting to know if Dr. Price (always rudely called just Price by this hateful author) will “continue to oppose allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.” Because to do so would mean totally changing the way public Medicare drug coverage works today. Today Medicare does not negotiate because Medicare does not buy drugs. If I am forced to have the $1200-toilet-seat guys in Washington negotiate my drug prices and forced to buy my drugs from them (as opposed to the much better negotiators with much more buying power that I have now), I must be allowed to drop out of Part D without the current penalty that would be imposed.

    With eight outright lies or statements so misleading that they can be considered lies in just the two paragraphs on Medicare, imagine how bad the rest of this article is.

  • Here’s a question that should be added: What will you do to improve medical device safety at FDA, such as prescreening patients for reactivity to dental and medical devices to ensure they are “right for you” before they are installed?

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