Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 22, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Health Care Choices


  • Opponents of a proposed ballot measure called the �Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act� say it reduces health care choice. Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch challenges several points of the measure.
Guests:
  • Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch - Former Maricopa County health officer and Director of Public Health
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Backers of the Freedom of Choice in Healthcare Act say it will preserve and protect the rights of individuals to make their own healthcare and Health Insurance choices. but opponents of the measure say it will do just the opposite. last week the chairman of the initiative appeared on "horizon." here to share his views against the proposal is Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, former Maricopa County health officer and Director of Public Health. Good to have you on the program, thanks for joining us.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
Pleasure, Ted, nice to be here.

>>Ted Simons:
The initiative, Freedom of Choice. Certainly sounds good.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
It sounds good. That's a little disingenuous, I would think, because it will not provide the choice. That's a little disingenuous because people have a right to chose their home doctor. If this passes, every piece of legislation that exists that provides a payer or program would have to find a competitor, a private competitor. It does not allow a choice, it restricts the doctors you can pick from the lists. it will determine the kinds of care you get. if you have a precondition, you probably can't get the coverage. my feeling is this is a bad piece of legislation. it would in fact, limit the choices that we now should be able to have and many don't because of the private sector kinds of insurance that we have.

>>Ted Simons:
that's a severe disconnect. when questioned the chairman who was on recently who basically said this would bar any law limiting choices of doctors.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
He's being a little bit - he's fudging the issue. what he's afraid of is a single-payer system in Arizona like Medicare where it would have a public funding source. Private Care, any doctor you wanted. A private system, where all of us go to the doctor and hospital you wanted. you and the doctor make the decisions for the healthcare you need, not an insurance company. Novak is very much hostile to this and I'm not sure why. we had a debate on that a year ago. I'm not sure I understand his hostility. this amendment would make it impossible not only for Phil Lopez' law to pass and could put in jeopardy Medicare, Medicaid, the veteran's system and others. Because they are all single publicly funded programs which has no alternative of the private sector. What with the soldier coming home with the post-traumatic stress syndrome can't go anywhere other than the VA? you won't have a doctor that's private.

>>Ted Simons:
A bureaucratic making choices yea or nay on choices of health care.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
that's the argument. Today in this country, tens and thousands of bureaucrats are making decisions. No, you can't have this. I'm sorry. you have Breast Cancer. It's not covered. "see you later alligator" or you are shipped out of the hospital. That does not exist under Medicare or Medicaid. There are restrictions, but not the kind of restrictions that the private sector provides.

>>Ted Simons:
Are they the kind of restrictions though that could be draconian or punitive if universal healthcare comes through and folks have no other choice other than systemic choices.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
there will be other choices if we have a universal healthcare system. Medicare let's say right and I sign up part b and part a. I don't have to sign up. I can go to the private sector if I want. I do it because it's value to me to be part of Medicare.

>>Ted Simons:
Are you saying a Universal System that does not require everyone to sign up will be acceptable to you?

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
A Universal System will allow everyone to participate. It will grant the privilege for every human being in this nation to go into a health system, if they so choose.

>>Ted Simons:
What if they don't choose?

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
If they don't choose, they don't have to.

>>Ted Simons:
Doesn't that compromise the system?

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
Only if there are others stealing healthy patients out of system. In other words, if you have a system that allows cherry picking which you have today. They allow them to go into a company with young employees and give them a great deal. Why? Because the young employees aren't sick. What about the chronically old people? They are not covered because the plan often doesn't cover their needs and drugs, etc. They are on the street. We have a million people a year, 100,000 a month losing their healthcare in the country.

>>Ted Simons:
That's the other side's argument in that universal healthcare, can't be effective if the healthy are allowed to go stray.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
It's not who's in the system, it's how the system is paid for. A Universal System requires that all of us participate in the payment of the system. We all pay School Taxes. I don't have any kids going to school, but I pay school taxes because I want the next kid educated as I was with the same opportunity. We pay for police. I never call the police, you know, we live in a nice neighborhood, and cops hardly ever come around. It's the value of having the security that the community is covering the needs of every one if they need it. If I walk out and get hit by a truck tomorrow, I know that Medicare will cover for my hospital care, and that's a very secure feeling.

>>Ted Simons:
Is a Universal System like the one Representative Lopez is suggesting a target of this initiative?

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
Yes.

>>Ted Simons:
There's no kidding around.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
No question.

>>Ted Simons:
Is it affordable? Is it viable?

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
Absolutely. We are spending 2.3 trillion, that's 12 zeroes after the 2.3. That's a lot of money. That 2.3 trillion approximates the money spent by the people at doctors' offices that do the bills and call up and make sure you don't get coverage. they shuffle and, look, he found this problem and we don't cover. The overhead that's paid into the private sector today constitutes almost $500 billion, a little bit less than a quarter of the total cost about 25-30\%. That money is available if the system had not that overhead and we used those resources. We are spending over $800 billion a year today by corporations and companies purchasing health insurance premiums. That money could all be allocated in the system. The government and others are spending tax dollars for the system. The money is there. It's a myth. It's a myth designed to frighten the public against a single-payer system or a University-health system. that's what Mr. --Dr. Novak is trying to do frighten people into choosing something to prevent their freedom from disease. Their freedom to get the doctor they want and healthcare they want.

>>Ted Simons:
We have to stop. thank you for joining us.

>>Jonathan Weisbuch:
It's pleasure. It's been a pleasure. I hope I gave the points that the people need to make the decision on the election.

>>Ted Simons:
I think you did. thank you very much.

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