Welcome to Nashville, Mr. President. You will be warmly welcomed to our great state by people who both agree and disagree with you on the issue of your health care law. While a visit from the President of our nation is a big deal, my hope is that you will come not just to talk or lecture, but also listen. Tennesseans have plenty of wisdom to share on the issue of health care access. Remember, we were the test case for the failed HillaryCare experiment. Tennessee had a former governor, a healthcare expert, who spent most of his administration cleaning up that program.
During your visit, I am hopeful you will talk with more than just the people who are staged in the room of an elementary school. As you have recently said in an interview, you are ready to ‘loosen up’ a bit as you near the end of your Presidency. Do so in Nashville. Visit with those who disagree with you and have been adversely impacted by Obamacare.
Visit with the insurance companies who have to elevate their rates in the individual market by over 30% this year. Ask them how your mandates are affecting their pricing and listen to their answers. Visit with some of my constituents who tell us they can’t afford the insurance, even with the subsidies. Visit with some of those who find themselves among the 6 million Americans who lost their insurance because of this law and were thrown into the exchange to now find that the product provided, due to the high out of pocket costs, is too expensive to use. Ask them how they have felt having to give up both the insurance they liked and a doctor they have used for years, perhaps decades. Ask them if they feel like you broke your promise of, ‘if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.’ Listen to what they tell you.
Emergency room personnel tell us they are overrun. People are still walking through those doors to get health care because they have found that the card in their pocket gives them access to the queue, not access to the doctor and affordable care. Therefore, our hospitals still have a problem with a high rate of uncompensated care coming through the door. Your law did not alleviate that problem; it has made the problem worse. If both insurance and care are unaffordable, the problem will persist. Walk in an emergency room and talk to those delivering the care. Listen to what they tell you. I think you will be surprised at what you hear. By the way, when was the last time you visited an emergency room and talked with those on the front lines?
If we can agree that the end goal is for all Americans to have access to affordable health care, then let’s open up the insurance market and allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines. This is an issue I discussed with you back in 2009 at your Blair House summit on health care with House and Senate leaders. If we want to lower the costs of insurance products, then a free and open market is the way to do it. Give people choice and options. Give them health insurance freedom.
By the way, while you are in town, please ask some who run our rural hospitals about the RAC audits that your administration is pushing on our hospitals. Let’s agree that this is an issue that needs to be solved. If CMS is going to challenge payment, let’s start a shot clock on the bureaucrats; let’s agree to give them a year to find a reason not to pay the claims. If they can’t do their job in 365 days, then let’s agree they must stop harassing the hospitals. Listen to the fears of these hospitals. They are struggling to keep the doors open. Hear them out on this issue.
Nashville is the center of the universe on health care and hospital management. You have come to the right place to learn from those who know how to solve problems. If you listen to what you hear in Nashville, I fully believe you will come away agreeing that the issue of health insurance and health care delivery will not be solved in Washington, D.C. It will be solved by health care innovators in Nashville, Tennessee. What they want D.C. to do is to admit they have made a mess of government run health care and burdened companies with bureaucratic paperwork and interference. Please listen to what those not in the room will tell you. Take their wisdom back to D.C. and work with us to achieve the goal of access to affordable health care for all Americans.