Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Update from Senator Fielder

Communication from your State Senate

By Senator Jennifer Fielder, R - Montana State Senate District 7

Feb 25, 2014

Lets' really reduce the cost of healthcare

We all know something is very wrong with the cost of health care in this country. But is the answer really more bureaucracy?

Some laws and regulations already hamper the healthcare industry's ability to deliver affordable care. Only time will tell how the massive new federal law will pan out, but it doesn't look too good for most of us.

As a fiscal conservative, I am worried about the economic and regulatory path this nation is on, not only in healthcare, but in everything
government is doing that removes the opportunity and incentive for able bodied people to earn a decent income.

As far as reducing health care costs, it seems to me we should focus on eliminating the rampant fraud, waste, abuse, and frivolous lawsuits that are known to cause increasingly unreasonable and unpredictable prices.

Recently, a local healthcare administrator reported there is "only" $200 million worth of fraud in our state's medical industry every year. While he insisted that wasn't bad, I couldn't help but wonder how many Montanans that $200 million could help.

Next week in Plains, MT a free workshop called "Surviving Obamacare 101" will be hosted by Americans for Prosperity. Expert economist Joe Balyeat will offer a frank discussion on the new health care law including hidden taxes, related penalties, how to qualify for an exemption, the long term costs for students and young adults, whether it is more affordable to not comply with the mandate, and the adverse impact Obamacare and Medicaid
expansion are expected to have on Montana in the long run.

The meeting will take place 7pm Wednesday March 5 at Plains Bible Chapel, 8 E. Combest Rd, Plains, MT. I will be there to listen in on the debate and hear from citizens as well. See attached flyer for details on this meeting and feel free to pass it on. Or go to www.americansforprosperirity.org for info on similar workshops in other areas.

There is no question many committed employees do an amazing job in the
health care industry. People and businesses who provide good services
should be rewarded by wages and profits commensurate with what customers are willing, and able, to pay. We need them to stay in business, but we also need these companies to earn that business fair and square.

*The medical industry and the government have got to get serious about
stopping the fraud, waste, and abusive overcharges or it's not going to get better. *

Aside from fraud, another factor that drives costs up is consumers have no incentive or reward for being wise shoppers. Under our current system, it is difficult to find out how much a medical service is going to cost in advance, and few people even question it because somebody else is going to pay for it anyway. i.e. Medicare, Medicaid. or insurance.

My elderly father was recently confined to a wheelchair. Dad's doctor
prescribed a special seat cushion so he wouldn't develop bedsores from
sitting in one place too much.

From Dad's perspective, Medicare was great. To his relief, they covered the cost of the $400 seat cushion without question. But I had to ask, "$400???" It looked like the typical stadium cushion you can buy for $10 or $20 at sporting goods stores.

I said, "I know you're worth it dad, but c'mon. What's so special about this seat cushion that it cost $400?" As he lay in bed one day I picked it up to search for a reasonable explanation. It had a medical company label sewn on. It must be filled with some special, "medical" foam, right?

We unzipped the nylon covering, and you know what we found? This $400
cushion was made of the same standard upholstery foam used in camping pads and sofas! No reasonable person would pay $400 for such a thing. But since it was billed to Medicare, nobody blinked. That is until I did.

This is just one example of the way our system encourages activities that drive costs up. No wonder prices are so high.

*Pouring billions of dollars into government funded programs which are
already fiscally irresponsible and economically unsustainable will not
discourage exploitation of the system. In fact, the more government has gotten involved in funding healthcare, the more cost and inefficiency seems to escalate. *

When industry and government begin to genuinely work toward eliminating fraud, achieving fair and transparent pricing, allowing customers to shop wisely, and promoting healthy life choices, we will see lower costs and a healthier society. That is something I would be glad to support.

To explore this issue further I hope you'll attend the workshop in Plains on March 5 if possible or check www.americansforprosperity.org to see if a workshop is being offered in your area.

Also, I invite you to explore www.jenniferfielder.us to see what's new, use the tools to research laws and issues, and connect with me via social media so we can stay in touch better. It would really help me out if you will sign in at my web site so I can be sure I have your contact info up to date as well.


Senator Jennifer Fielder
Montana State Senate - District 7


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