Opinion

Georgia Doctor: Healthcare Should Be a Key Issue in Senate Runoff

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Posted: Dec 08, 2020 12:30 PM
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Georgia Doctor: Healthcare Should Be a Key Issue in Senate Runoff

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

The runoff election in the Peach State is ramping-up as control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. And believe it or not, while the media is focusing on which political camp can outspend the other, Georgians actually care about the issues. As a practicing physician in the state who listens intently to my patients, it’s clear healthcare reform is a top concern.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree the healthcare status quo isn’t working. In fact, a national poll taken earlier this year found that 92 percent of Americans broadly agree changes to the healthcare system are needed. It’s not a surprise why.

Since Obamacare was adopted in 2010, politicians and health insurance bureaucrats have been creeping into the exam room. As a result, not only are Americans forced into a rigid set of healthcare plans that don’t take into account an individual’s unique circumstances, but medical professionals are compelled to focus on paperwork and data entry, rather than patients. Ever wonder why you began seeing the back of your doctor’s head more often during a check-up?

The spools of red tape and armies of middlemen marching through the healthcare system have pushed costs up, while choices have fallen. For example, premiums for some Obamacare plans in Georgia have jumped by more than 40 percent over the past two years and residents in one-quarter of the state’s counties only have access to one insurer option on the exchanges. The healthcare situation is so bleak that Gov. Kemp is already taking steps to remove government from the equation and utilize private alternatives where he can.

But despite a consensus that the current system is broken, policy prescriptions at the national level from the two major political parties couldn’t be more different.

In short, Democrats want to double down on injecting more government into healthcare. Joe Biden has campaigned on protecting and expanding Obamacare, a stepping-stone on the way to an entirely government-run system. The more radical wing of the party, on the other hand, demands a direct move to Medicare for All, or single-payer system. It’s anyone’s guess which faction will end-up winning the tug-of-war game within a Biden administration.

Either way, pumping steroids into an already defective healthcare scheme and inevitably employing a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the answer.

Instead, healthcare reform should focus on untangling the complex web of hospital systems, insurance bureaucracy and government regulations that are strangling the patient-doctor relationship. Armed with more autonomy, our state’s medical professionals will be free to offer patients personalized healthcare at a fraction of the cost. And injecting price transparency into the market for both prescription drugs and the medical care itself will drive down costs further.

These are key elements included in a Senate resolution recently introduced by Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)—candidates who are currently running for reelection. The proposal mirrors a framework already released by the Job Creators Network Foundation called Healthcare for You and is a patient-centered healthcare plan that Georgians can get behind.  

Georgia voters have a big decision to make come January. Their choice will not only determine control of the U.S. Senate, but decide if Biden and his allies have a clear avenue to pursue reform that will make the broken healthcare system even worse. The ball is in your court, Georgia. Choose wisely.

Dr. Scott Barbour is a practicing orthopedic surgeon in Georgia and a member of the Job Creators Network.