Letter: Physicians support health care change

Stephanie Grace’s column, “Mixed News for Landrieu and Cassidy,’’ (11-5-13), is important for correctly pointing out the importance of the debate on Obamacare and the folly of Republicans losing sight of who the real adversary is in the upcoming Senate race.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu owns Obamacare and continues to embrace it. Dr. Cassidy is on record as advocating a plan for reform back before Obamacare was even introduced. The basic choice before voters is between total government control, leading to a single-payer system, and a voluntary, free-market solution that puts the patient in the driver’s seat. Government control versus patient control.

The news is full of stories of how Obamacare mandates that people buy coverage they don’t need or want and may not be able to afford in order to pump more money into the system, a not-so-hidden additional tax.

The physicians of this state, represented by the Louisiana State Medical Society, have long advocated for replacement of the status quo with market-based reform that would (1) expand patient choice of plans, financing mechanisms and delivery models, (2) allow beneficiaries the opportunity and responsibility to choose and own the plan that best suits their needs and, (3) where a subsidy from employer or government is offered, have that subsidy be the same, no matter what plan is chosen. Patients should have the periodic right to change plans if dissatisfied with their previous choice. Dr. Cassidy has authored just such a proposal and it is certainly not “Obamacare-Lite.” In fact, it is quite the opposite.

In the upcoming primary contest, as implied by Grace, Republicans should keep in mind who their real opponent is. In the general election, the choice for our future health system is between total government control and patient control through a free and voluntary market, something we have never had in health care in this country. I would argue that Dr. Bill Cassidy, based on his record and experience, is imminently and uniquely qualified to represent the market philosophy for creation of a cost-effective health system.

Daniel H. Johnson

former president, Louisiana State Medical Society