Congress swings and misses on healthcare reform efforts

April 10, 2017

I have loved baseball for as long as I can remember, but as I get older, I have the same problems with those who play our national pastime that I have with our national representatives in government.

For me, the official arrival of spring comes with the new baseball season, that long stretch starting in April and ending around November.

 

Further reading: What AHCA's failure means for physicians

 

But it is another drawn-out contest that has my attention these days, as the re-energized Republican Elephants take on the recently demoralized Democratic Donkeys in one of the longest ongoing games of the past decade: healthcare reform.

Both teams have lost big sluggers over the years, retooled with young upstarts and most of the action still occurs outside the “field” of Congress, swapping sound bites and snipes at who will emerge victorious at the end of the contest. Fans on both sides continue to argue ad nauseam on radio and in the comment sections of websites over who is truly the better squad, often with rationale that makes one’s head spin. 

I have loved baseball for as long as I can remember, but as I get older, I have the same problems with those who play our national pastime that I have with our national representatives in government.  Both tend to forget about the people who pay their salaries after a little time in the spotlight. 

In the contest over healthcare reform, Republicans are appealing right to their fan base. The political rallying cry, “you deserve better” is repeated over and over again before thousands in small towns and big cities. But a closer look at the playbook-the American Health Care Act-begs the question of who the “you” is. 

 

Blog: Healthcare only "safe" when physicians work for patients

 

It doesn’t appear to be Medicaid patients, many of whom will lose coverage. It doesn’t even appear to be the majority of those who’ve gained healthcare coverage in recent years (and may have voted Republican in the last election), but face uncertainty when it comes to their care. And it certainly doesn’t mean the nearly 1 million U.S. physicians who will yet again, see a fluctuating patient panel.

Next: Dems can step up to the bat

 

And Democrats, rather than acknowledging that there are areas in true need of repair with the Affordable Care Act, are simply trying to keep the other team off the field and discredit their players. Perhaps rather than focusing so much on defense, they should step up to bat with some ideas and see what happens.

While there are strong parallels, healthcare reform can’t become a contest over who is “right” and who is “wrong” when it comes to healthcare reform. It is about doing what is right for the majority of Americans. Both Republicans and Democrats need to remember that. This is not a game. This is the lives of millions of Americans at stake when all is said and done. 

 

In case you missed it: Q&A with ACP's Bob Doherty on the future of healthcare

 

Don’t forget another parallel between baseball and politics. If you have a good year before you are about to become a free agent, that ensures you a job for another series of years, likely with more prestige and financial perks. 

For many in political offices, contracts are coming up in 2018. So remember who made big promises and didn’t deliver before you decide who deserves to keep their job or perhaps should get taken out of the game.  

 

 

Keith L. Martin is editorial director for Medical Economics. You can follow him on Twitter at @klmartin_ubm. And tell us what you think about healthcare reform at medec@ubm.com.