Ogdensburg Journal - Dr. Agarwal Defends Health Care Bill
A prominent Ogdensburg doctor has been urging Congress to pass a proposed health care reform bill, arguing it would help the working poor obtain preventive care that could eventually save money by keeping them out of the hospital.
"If we don't do anything the situation will keep getting worse," said Dr. Ravinder N. Agarwal. "The working poor fall through the cracks."
Currently, hospitals, health care agencies and many doctors provide free care to families that have no health insurance, he said. But they then raise their rates to people who have health insurance to make up for what they lose in providing free care.
"It adds to the cost of private insurance," he said.
Dr. Agarwal said that while "it is not a perfect bill, it is a start in the right direction. Further improvements can be done down the road."
"There has been a great deal of misinformation and at times outright lies perpetuated by certain people and agencies in order to help their own interest and pockets," Dr. Agarwal said in a written statement. "I would like to address some of this misinformation in order to inform the public as what this bill will or will not accomplish. The opponents have been spreading the myth that Obama plan is a Government takeover of the health care and will affect one-sixth of the national economy. The fact is that if government subsidy and regulation translates into government takeover then this takeover has already happened more than 40 years ago when Medicare, Medicaid and VA were established."
Dr. Agarwal says that those programs pay for more than half of total health care while private insurance pay for about one third of the bill and the rest is mostly out of pocket expenses. The present bill will restrict insurance companies who deny insurance for pre-existing conditions and disallowing payments at their whim and provide subsidies on a sliding scale for uninsured to get insurance, according to the doctor.
" If this kind of reform is considered 'government takeover' then I see nothing wrong with it," he wrote.
He states that another misconception perpetuated is that this reform does not address the high cost of medical care.
"The actuarial assessment and projections by office of budget is that initially the cost may increase by no more than one percent which is not a bad bargain to cover more than 35 million uninsured. Besides the same agencies project that in the second decade when most of the reforms have been in place the cost will start going down significantly," he wrote. "The opponents claim that small businesses will be hard hit because they will be mandated to provide insurance for their employees. This is not true. Under the provisions of the bill small businesses can choose to cover or not. They would be provided with tax credits if they chose to provide health insurance. Opponents have also scared the seniors that they will lose coverage or they have to pay more. This is also not true. By the way, the AARP endorses the president's plan."
Under the president's plan for reform, Dr. Agarwal says that:
* If you have health insurance through your employer and you like your plan, you can keep it.
* If you're a small business owner, you'll receive new tax credits that make it easier for you to provide coverage for employees if you choose to do so.
* If you have Medicare, the President's plan guarantees that your benefits will not be cut, and the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended for more than nine years.
* If you're uninsured, you could receive a tax credit to help pay for coverage if needed - part of the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.
* Even if you currently have health insurance, there will be new protections from insurance company abuses, and tax credits will make coverage more affordable.
The president's plan guarantees that:
* You will never be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
* You will never again be hit with arbitrary health insurance premium hikes.
If we do not pass reform:
* Up to 17 million more people will be uninsured by 2019.
* Insurers can continue their massive and arbitrary premium rate increases - such as Anthem Blue Cross raising rates for customers in California by nearly 40 percent, and rates in Illinois going up by as much as 60 percent.
* As many as 275,000 people could die prematurely over the next 10 years because they don't have health insurance.
* The average family's health care costs will nearly double by 2020, from $13,000 to $24,000.