Representative Ron Maurer on Health Care Reform

One Republican’s Thoughts on Health Care Reform
By Rep. Ron Maurer
(R-Grants Pass)

The hysteria whipped up by liberal “universalist” politicos is utterly amazing. It underlies the reality that they cannot, they do not, and they will not debate healthcare reform on the merits of the arguments. A first-order assumption in their argument is that universal healthcare is the desired goal. This premise belies the true foundation that the more fundamental question is, what type of system do we want? Followed by, how much are we willing to spend? Their greatest fear is what most people in the United States know intuitively (but cannot explain). Once articled, and then understood the death of universal healthcare will be declared never to be revisited again.

A common argument for liberals beginning the discussion about healthcare reform is that “the polls” say Americans want universal healthcare. My response is, every time Americans have been asked whether they want to adopt a specific form of universal healthcare legislation the answer has always been a resounding NO! Exceptions to this have been through stratifying the population whether by age (Medicare) or perceived needs based (Medicaid). A recent example is S-CHIP which is using a divide and conquer approach.

My reaction to the current prevailing discourse is that we are clearly on the road to “socialized medicine” If you don’t believe this, ask business owners about the cost of providing health insurance to their employees. The answer, if they still provide health insurance, is they don’t understand it; costs are to high and something needs to be done now! I agree something needs to be done. But, that something is not giving the reins of a largely government run system now a bigger share.

My view of a conservative approach to healthcare reform is based on the notion that we must have fundamental change in healthcare finance and delivery. My guiding principles for Oregon healthcare reform include:

1. Challenge all assumptions about health and healthcare.
2. People decide. Healthcare providers guide.
3. More is not always better. Access to more healthcare does not always lead to better health outcomes.
4. Payment defines delivery. If change to the payment/reimbursement system is made then change to the delivery model will follow.
5. It has taken decades to create the system we have today. It will take years to deconstruct that system and build a new more rational, sustainable, effective healthcare model.
6. Parochial interests are not sacred.
7. Demand change by agitating the federal bureaucracy and Congressional leaders.

These guiding principles will be the basis for the new Oregon Health Future Initiative which will not attempt to overthrow the current system but will challenge all stakeholders and special interest groups to give up something for the viability of our future health needs.

The money pit for healthcare is not limitless and the only way we are going to solve this problem is to contain costs. There is only one way to control costs and that is the politically charged and often demonized word “NO”.

So, who says NO? You or the Government.

On the surface this choice is simple but the reality is that this is a very complex problem that requires rational debate and fundamental change. Don’t believe rhetoric that the problem can only be fixed by more government involvement. Ask one question when evaluating any change termed “healthcare reform”. Does this change move us toward universal healthcare or does it move us toward a more market based, consumer driven system?

Americans are not desirous of becoming agents of the state. Americans want choices and independence.

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Posted by at 05:59 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • homer

    More is not better?

    Interesting point here. Because more has become more important than better in healthcare reform. The act of doing something has become more important than doing something right. The wanting to do more of a bad health care option has become better than doing less of a bad health care option. This is like a rope knot.

  • Alan

    Trying to contain cost is important, but I am under no illusion that it is easy because behind every health cost is a receiver who has something to lose if they are taken out of the system.

    Our mis-spent health care dollars are going to people who will resist change.

  • Steve Plunk

    Rep. Maurer has hit the nail on the head. More insurance is not the answer. The answer is cost containment and consumer education and better efficiencies and… It’s a hundred or thousand different things not one silver bullet that solves the problems.

    This approach needs a catchy name to appeal to the public. Once they look closely they will see this is the right approach and the only realistic way to deal with rising health care costs.

    Thank you Rep. Maurer.

  • Marc

    Excellent article. Good points. Common sense.

  • davidg

    I’d like to see more elaboration on your third point about “more is not better.” Conventional medicine offers essentially only drugs and surgery for treating the chronic diseases which are starting to overwhelm our health care system. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee uses his own overcoming of obesity as an example of an important truth he discovered: we do not have a health care crisis in this country; we have a health crisis. What people really want is not health care; they want their health.

    Many experts say that 60-70% of health care dollars are spent on conditions which are preventable with proper lifestyle, or on conditions which are best treated with lifestyle changes. With a healthy lifestyle, we can often reclaim our health, and then the so-called “health care funding crisis” evaporates. How can you incorporate these concepts into your proposals?

    • DMF

      You are so correct. My diagnosis of type II diabetes was reversed when I lost 18 pounds. My blood pressure has gone down. All comments here are absolutely correct more insurance is not the answer. Education is. In the last thirty years, since the advent of the “healthy lifestyle” obesity and Type II diabetes has skyrocketed. That isn’t insurance.

    • Ron Maurer

      David, I appreciate your comments. Each of my guiding principles needs further explanation and I am quite willing to explore further what each means. To be specific about your request about “more is not always better” I will point you to read a series of articles published by the Dartmouth Health Atlas.
      The articles summarize my views of the “more is not always better” principle. Whether it is providing effective care, addressing preference-sensitive care, or controlling supply-sensitive care each impacts the use of healthcare services. My focus on” more is not always better” is about the overuse of medical services that provide no value to either the health of the patient or to quality of life rather than focusing on the patients need to take responsibility for their own actions.

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