Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Empty Republican Rhetoric on Health Reform

I've just read "Health Care Reform - A Republican View," by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, in today's online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

It's disgracefully empty rhetoric!

Senator Grassley is an intelligent person, ready to crusade for values he believes in. I've praised his advocacy for strong conflict of interest protections here and here. In that area he's been a real leader.

But his New England Journal screed is simply a rehash of Regan-era platitudes about the evils of government and threats to our freedom. It's the marching orders for the 40 Senate Republicans, who, unless Senator Snowe defects, are maintaining (a) remarkable unity and (b) stunning absence of positive ideas.

I do agree with Senator Grassley's emphasis on tort reform. Even though economic analysis suggests that malpractice reform will have limited financial impact, anyone who is close to medical practice knows how corrosive the threat of malpractice action has become. The system does not promote improved quality and does not take good care of those who have suffered. The Republicans are right on this issue.

We've actually had some thoughtful debate in the Senate, but it's all within the ranks of the Democrats. Since the Republicans appear to be united behind Senator Jim DeMint's campaign to "break" President Obama and create his "Waterloo" by defeating health reform, their role has simply been to say "no." They've left it to the Democrats to argue about alternatives.

Read the New England Journal piece and see what you think.

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