Checking Up On Health

Health Policy Briefs: March 20, 2012

Compiled by Benita Dodd

Today is your last chance to sign up for “Georgia Health Care Update,” the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’ Leadership Breakfast, 8 a.m. Thursday at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. State Attorney General Sam Olens and health care expert Ronald E. Bachman will give the “Georgia Health Care Update,” just days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Georgia is one of 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business that filed the challenge to the law. The cost to register for the Leadership Breakfast is $25. Register here TODAY: Find out more here:

Supreme Court cupdate: Next week, the Supreme Court will hear a remarkable six hours of oral argument in the case with 26 states challenging the law’s constitutionality. Demonstrators will fill the streets outside the Supreme Court during the three days of hearings March 26-28.

The news gets worse: Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute writes in an article for Forbes magazine:  “If public opposition is hardening now against ObamaCare, just wait until the mandate kicks in on January 1, 2014, when everyone will be required to purchase expensive government-dictated health insurance under penalty of federal law. And as seniors find it harder and harder to find a doctor who can afford to see them. And as they begin to fear the impact of the cuts of ObamaCare’s rationing board. And as states find it is impossible to provide basic services because the mandate to vastly expand Medicaid is gobbling up virtually all of their budgets. And as the unemployment rate refuses to drop because employers are frightened about the huge costs they are facing with the employer mandate. And as taxpayers see the gusher of red ink that will explode the federal budget deficit as ObamaCare’s subsidy costs explode.” Source:

Innovation and Georgia: The Georgia Public Foundation has published an Issue Analysis by Ross Mason, “Health Care: A Road Map to Innovation” that shows how Georgia can lead in global health innovation. Mason points out that the United States spent $2.4 trillion on health care in 2011. If that represented a country, it would be the world’s sixth-largest economy.

“To remain globally competitive, it is widely agreed, the United States must reduce the growth in health care spending. Applying innovative solutions to health care costs is the best solution. This will grow the economy while reducing spending and the nation’s debt.”

Georgia has a competitive advantage in many areas that can drive early-stage job creation, Mason points out:

  • Georgia has the strongest health-care information technology (IT) industry in the country
  • Georgia ranks second in the nation in bio-medical
  • Georgia ranks third in the nation in regenerative medical research
  • Georgia is a leader in robotics, nanotechnology and neuroscience
  • Georgia ranks in the top five in the nation in medical device manufacturing and sales
  • Georgia is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Task Force on Global Health and the National Health Museum

For Georgia to be a national leader in new job creation, it must focus and take advantage of its unique, competitive resources, particularly in health care. The state needs to create a brand that focuses these resources by encouraging early-stage investment, partnering with the military, coordinating research programs, attracting venture philanthropy and promoting strategic public policy. Read Mason’s proposals here:

Looking a gift (Trojan) horse in the mouth: This week, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have its second birthday, and Obamacare advocates will be emphasizing the law’s supposed benefits on specific groups of Americans, but as Heritage’s Foundation research over the past two years has shown, the law harms Americans – even the groups showcased by the left.

Heritage notes that the federal law’s advocates will be highlighting better benefits and free preventive care, but that the health law’s new requirements will reduce patient choice, increase costs, and violate religious liberty — for women and everyone else, too. Read more here:

Phantom savings? Health insurers believe their costs will rise because of the White House announcement that insurers would have to cover the cost of providing free birth control to employees of religious groups as part of the federal law, which requires health insurance plans to offer contraception without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible as of August 1. The White House rationale was that any added cost would be offset by fewer unwanted pregnancies.

A new survey, however, indicates that health insurers disagree – 40 percent say that monthly costs per member will rise through higher pharmacy expenditures within two years after the preventive care requirement goes into effect. Another 7 percent expect higher pharmacy expenditures but lower medical costs, while 20 percent say costs will balance out and 33 percent are unsure. Source:

Feds stepping into state territory: Medical malpractice reform is needed in many different states, but an effort currently underway on this issue in Congress is misguided, according to Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow/ for the Heritage Foundation.

Legislatures in places like Texas that passed measures intended to reform the court processes used to make claims against doctors and hospitals and to stop abusive litigation have seen many benefits for both victims and the medical community. These include faster resolution of legitimate claims, a reduction in frivolous claims and defensive medicine, and decreases in medical malpractice premiums.

Von Spakovsky maintains that a bill being considered by the House of Representatives has many of the best features of such reforms that have proven to work. The problem with most of the proposed reforms in H.R. 5, however, is that “the law governing medical malpractice claims is a state issue, not a federal issue.” Read more at

Quote of Note:   “All bad precedents began as justifiable measures.” – Gaius Julius Caesar

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