Home remedies for healthcare ills

Benita Dodd's picture

In a month in which the crafters of the new federal healthcare law probably needed trauma care, two of Georgia’s best known physicians were attending a Georgia Public Policy Foundation event focused on what’s next. Both are known more for their passion than their profession. Both are authors of new books inspired by this ongoing controversy; both offer solutions, not snake oil.

Three-term Georgia Congressman Tom Price, a speaker at the Foundation event, is a key opponent of President Obama’s cornerstone legislation. Just this month, in a 26-state challenge that included Georgia, a Florida judge ruled the entire healthcare law unconstitutional because of the mandate that everyone have insurance. A Virginia judge had ruled in December that the individual mandate violated the Constitution; two other judges have ruled that the law is constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to have the final say.

An orthopedic surgeon who was medical director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital before his election to Congress, Price authored the Empowering Patients First Act, legislation he believes will help provide access for all Americans to afordable, quality healthcare.

Price’s new book, co-authored with businessman L.Gerald Davis, was released this month. “Saving the American Miracle: The Destruction and Restoration of American Values,” maintains that America is moving “inexorably toward totalitarianism” and offers a strategy for “citizens who reject the tyranny of neo-totalitarianism, and who hope for a restoration of traditional American values.”

“All of us who have been confounded by what’s happened in our country – in the last four years with focus, but for a longer time – have been frustrated by what appear to be solutions but don’t embrace fundamental American principles,” Price said this week.

He maintains Americans start with the wrong question: What is government going to do? And he traces that deterioration of American values to the New Deal era which, “by creating government relief and work programs, encouraged our population to become dependent on government.”

The book proposed getting America off the dependency track, including changing the tax system or “dependent voters will outnumber taxpaying voters, and then it will be too late to vote at all.” Outreach to those under age 30, the patriotic “Millennials,” is critical; they will shape America’s future.

“Healthcare is one of the epicenters of the challenge to our liberty and freedom,” Price says. “We can’t have a central system that responds to patients’ needs; none of the solutions require putting the federal government in charge of our lives.”

Price finds a kindred spirit in Atlanta urologist Brian Hill, whose new book, “Stop the Noise,” was written out of a desire to deliver the quality care that his patients need without ideology and emotionalism getting in the way.

Hill speaks from experience: He is the physician known for his exchange with Congressman David Scott’s at an August 2009 town hall meeting. When Hill asked Scott about his stance on Obamacare, Scott angrily accused him of hijacking the meeting and insinuated Hill wasn’t from the congressional district. Ironically, Hill points out, it was Scott who was not from the district.

Politics, not patients, came first as the healthcare plan was crafted, Hill writes, “And that was a shame because we have a tremendous opportunity to ... bring about that which we all desire: to increase access to a highly efficient, high-quality healthcare system in a cost-effective manner.”

Hill doesn’t blame government. “We as individuals are to blame ... We have abdicated our duty to be the caretakers of our government and to maintain a level of our accountability from our lawmakers,” he writes.

Hill examines who best manages the system, and how to create quality and efficiency by pursuing the outcome data that will give the government direction on healing the broken system.

Doctors’ orders: Individual accountability, or as Hill puts it, “The patient becomes the consumer at the center of healthcare model, moral hazard is minimized and the system becomes more in line with basic economic principles.”

It’s inspiring to see these two Georgians taking the lead in healthcare solutions and the bigger problem: Americans acquiescing to government the liberty hard won by our Founding Fathers.

To buy “Saving the American Miracle,” by U.S. Rep. Tom Price and L. Gerald Davis, go to http://tinyurl.com/4rbh6ta

To buy “Stop the Noise,” by Brian E. Hill, MD, go to www.stopthenoisehealthcare.com/purchase.html

To comment on this Foundation commentary, please go to http://tinyurl.com/4cwepmr.

[Benita M. Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians.]