By: Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D.
“Drain The Swamp” was President Andrew Jackson’s rallying cry to rid Washington of cronyism and corruption in 1828. This call has new meaning in 2017, intensified by the saga of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s failed American Health Care Act (AHCA).
ObamaCare, ironically called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), has created a swamp of metaphorical alligators devouring patients, physicians, and the economy. A partial list includes:
- rising out of pocket costs
- higher deductibles before “coverage” (if allowed at all) kicks in
- restricted networks of doctors and hospitals
- reduced availability of medications
- reduced availability of home health services and medical devices
- greater difficulty getting surgical approvals
- reduced access to specialists and longer wait times
- overcrowded emergency rooms
- devastating regulatory burdens on physicians and hospitals, forcing many to close their doors
- stunning job-killing effects of the employer mandate
- rising taxes, and more due to go into effect in 2017.
Despite fervent Republican promises to “repeal” ObamaCare, Ryan’s AHCA has retained most of its problems. Ryan’s Plan did not ðrain the swamp. It maintained the swamp of cronyism, rewards for special interests, artificial controls on free market options, and the features that guarantee more of the unaffordable costs that drive younger, healthier, low risk patients out of the market.
Mocking the idea of transparency promised by President Trump, Speaker Ryan’s plan was crafted in secret behind closed doors without public review—just like Democrats did with ObamaCare. GOP Congressional leaders excluded prominent free-market advocates such as Dr. Rand Paul, Dr. Tom Price, the Freedom Caucus members, and others.
The conservative Freedom Caucus members of the House held firm, and Ryan did not have enough votes to pass his bill. This “failure” could be a victory for those who truly want to drain the swamp of bureaucracy and special interests, and restore medical freedom to patients.
Ultimately patients will be better off if the Republicans start over. The GOP should follow proposals put forth by successful businessman, President Donald Trump, who proposed excellent recommendations for medical freedom and patient-centered reforms:
- lower cost “plain vanilla” risk-based insurance policies
- expanded health savings accounts, controlled by patients
- ability for patients to buy insurance across state lines, to select policies from states with lower cost options
- state control of Medicaid by block granting federal Medicaid dollars to states
- tax deduction of health insurance payments to equalize tax treatment of individually owned and employer-sponsored policies
- price transparency to eliminate the confusing and discriminatory price structure created by insurance contracts
- patient freedom to purchase medications overseas
Trump’s plan brings the greatest benefit to patients with more freedom to choose how to spend their own money based on individual needs and values rather than buying required coverage mandated by Washington bureaucrats.
Taxpayers should also pressure Congress to eliminate the $500 million (half a billion) tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood, whose primary business is abortion in their estimated 400 U.S. clinics. Low income women already have access to health services in several thousand federally qualified health clinics across the country. This taxpayer funding for women’s health would be preserved in block grants of federal Medicaid dollars to the states.
If one goal of “healthcare reform” is to eliminate “disparities,” eliminating tax funding to Planned parenthood would help save lives of minorities. Approximately 80% of abortions in the USA are done for two minority groups: African American and Hispanics. The numbers are staggering: more than 17 million of the 60 million lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade have been black lives.
Most congressmen lack real world business experience in the Milton Friedman model, which teaches that for free markets to work, there must be less regulation and more competition. Americans need to seek better qualified candidates.
One to consider is former tech industry CEO and international businessman, Bob Gray, running in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district to replace Dr. Tom Price, who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services. We also need representatives truly dedicated to life and liberty, and able to envision innovative solutions (e.g. The Grays were the first couple in the US to use an open-adoption for their frozen embryos).
As the Ryan plan’s debacle shows, draining the health-care swamp is no easy task—not when the swamp dwellers have so many friends in high places, the bad decisions that caused the crisis were based on deeply ingrained and flawed assumptions in the DC “swamp” culture, with very few “outsider” representatives with real world business experience.
ObamaCare cannot survive. It is in a death spiral as many on both sides of the political spectrum have painfully realized. We need fresh approaches, not just new names for old ideas. We need patient-centered options and political decisions based on America’s core principles of preserving liberty and life.
A window of opportunity is open for true reform with a businessman as President, a physician leading Department of Health and Human Services, and electing principled reformers and problem-solving business men and women to Congress. This is the “strong medicine” this doctor thinks America needs to rid us of government control of our medical care.
Dr. Vliet has been a leader in patient centered, individualized medical care. Since 1986, she has practiced medicine independent of insurance contracts that interfere with patient-physician relationships and decision-making. Dr. Vliet focus is medical freedom and free market approaches to healthcare. Dr. Vliet is the founder of Vive Life Center and Hormone Health Strategies with medical practices in Tucson AZ and Dallas TX, specializing in preventive and climacteric medicine with an integrated approach to evaluation and treatment of women and men with complex medical and hormonal problems from puberty to late life.
Dr. Vliet is a 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient for her national and international educational efforts in health, wellness, and endocrine aging in men and women, and is recognized in the US as a motivational speaker in health and wellness and a powerful patient advocate, proponent of free market approaches to lower healthcare costs. Dr. Vliet is the recipient of Voice of Women Award from Arizona Foundation for Women in recognition of her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health.
Dr. Vliet’s consumer health books include: It’s My Ovaries, Stupid; Screaming To Be Heard: Hormonal Connections Women Suspect– And Doctors STILL Ignore; Women, Weight and Hormones; The Savvy Woman’s Guide to PCOS, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Great Sex, Strength, and Stamina.
Dr. Vliet is a past Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a member of the AAPS Editorial Writing Team on healthcare reform, and a member of International Menopause Society and the International Society for The Study of the Aging Male (ISSAM). She received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She earned her B.S. and Master’s degrees from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Dr. Vliet has appeared on FOX NEWS, Cavuto, Stuart Varney Show, Fox and Friends, Sean Hannity and many nationally syndicated radio shows across the country as well as presented hundreds of Healthcare Town Halls addressing the economic and medical impact of the 2010 healthcare law and free market reforms, as well as seminars and radio shows on healthcare reform, Men’s Health and Women’s Health.
Dr. Vliet speaks as an independent physician, not as an official spokesperson for any organization or political party. Dr. Vliet has no financial ties to any health care system or health insurance plan. Her allegiance and advocacy is to and for patients.