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Open Letter on Health Care and Economics to Wa Senator Patty Murray

Senator Murray,
I'm deeply troubled by the erroneous positions and contrived assertions I here bantered about regarding Health Care and the economy.  As a people we've chosen and enjoyed the benefits of an essentially free market economy, and in those sectors where the market is truly free we have reasonable prices and universal access (with varying degrees of value-add).  Unfortunately our Health Care system is not one of these industries.  The artificial barriers to entry are far to high, and this is a result of nothing more or less than protectionism sought and supported by the existing fraternity of the medical elite.  If we really want to fix the Health Care system we need to allow the system room to react.  We need to direct the FDA to approve ALL drugs that demonstrate efficacy and have the clinical research necessary to allow doctors and patients to make informed decisions based on risk versus benefit.  At present the FDA has a policy of rejecting drugs that would compete against existing compounds.  We need to modify licensing requirements so anyone with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide medical services may obtain a license.  While at Spacelabs Medical I worked with nearly a dozen qualified physicians and cardiologists who were not able to practice simply because their education and training was conducted abroad.  Among them was a cardiologist widely recognized as the best in his field in his home country.  He came to the US fleeing the Georgian genocide and, despite exemplary credentials, is not allowed to practice here.

The reason Health Care costs continue to rise has nothing to do with advancements in medical technology.  These advancements, while carrying their own cost, would drive down the cost of care in a market without artificial restrictions.  The reason our Health Care has become so expensive is simple, and it's something I'm relatively certain you studied, at least in passing, in High School:  Supply and Demand.  With artificially restricted Supply and unfettered Demand costs can go no where but up.  Further, the proposals floating around all focus on increasing access, which equates to increasing demand, without addressing the need for increased supply.  So the first step should be to loosen regulations on providers so the Supply side of the equation can respond to market needs.

Second, we have no method of incentivising good health, and I certainly don't believe this is Government's role.  However, using the profit motivation of Insurance companies to the general benefit of all Americans is acceptable.  Allow insurance companies to adjust premiums based on an individual's health, so long as that health is determined during an annual physical paid for by the insurance company.  It would seem wise for the insurance plan includes provisions for lifestyle benefits that promote better health such as gym membership or weight loss counseling.  Doing so would ultimately result in reduced demand on the Health Care system.

In review, we need to remember our basic economics lessons from High School and apply our capacity for problem solving accordingly.  If prices are rising out of step with economic growth we must assume that there is an imbalance in supply and demand.  This imbalance, most times, results from artificial pressures.  In the case of our current Health Care system these pressures are being applied to both supply (inappropriately high barriers to entry) and demand (rising incidence of lifestyle illness and pressure from entitlement coverage).  Considering what we know about market economics the current situation is the only one we can expect.  And increasing access to health care, whether through entitlement or private sector programs will only worsen the issue of we cannot increase supply in a manner that out paces the increase in demand.