Monday, September 26, 2011

Dr. Lee Rogers-- A Democratic Congressional Candidate Thinking Out Of The Box On Health Care Solutions


Last Tuesday we introduced you, briefly, to Dr. Lee Rogers (D), a podiatrist running for Congress against Howard “Buck” McKeon (R) in California’s newly-drawn 25th district. I highlighted the differences between the 2 candidates on the continuing US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We asked Dr. Rogers to write a guest column about his views on the state of health reform. But first, a little of what we found out about Dr. Rogers (pictured above). He's a 33-year-old surgeon who runs a center at a Van Nuys hospital aimed at reducing diabetic amputations. He is a nationally known author and speaker on topics related to health policy and amputation prevention. He just completed a term at the American Diabetes Association directing national advocacy and education for foot care and he’s won multiple awards for research and other national achievements. And, of course, health care is not his only issue. He supports ending the wars, making the tax system fairer, and ending subsidies to rich companies and wealthy nations. Here's his guest post:
I appreciate the opportunity to write a guest column on health care for the blog. As a doctor, I see the effects of health policy and health funding on Americans every day. There are several tenets of basic health policy that I believe in. I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. Every American should be able to choose their own doctor or other heath care provider. Insurance portability, allowing you to take your same insurance from job to job, is important. Discrimination for pre-existing conditions must not be allowed.

But this is a deeper problem because our current heath care crisis cannot be separated from our current fiscal crisis. They are one in the same. Health care represents about 23% of the federal budget-- and it’s growing. Part of the increase is because of the aging baby boomers who are requiring more care and part of it relates to the advances in medicine which are more costly. These costs cannot be controlled. Take my specialty, diabetes, for example. Diabetes affects 26 million Americans and an additional 79 million more have “pre-diabetes.” Diabetes alone is responsible for about a third of health spending. In most cases, diabetes is a preventable disease. For the first time in human history, chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.) surpassed infectious diseases (pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, etc.) as the leading causes of death. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that chronic diseases will cost the world $47 Trillion by 2030. We must get control of chronic diseases, lest we bankrupt ourselves. This problem is not going away in 5, 10, or 15 years. It is a problem that is going to last decades and will be a major draw on the country’s finances.

But there is something that can be done. We can intervene to prevent chronic disease, before they occur, before they become more expensive. We can invest in research to treat disease and prevent complications. We shouldn’t slash the health care budget leaving more people to seek treatment later when the diseases are more advanced and costly.

Many people have asked my opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or the health reform law. Yes, I am a Democrat, but I’m also a doctor and I would not have voted for the bill. It is about 2700 pages long filled with payoffs to corporations and legislator’s home districts funded by taxpayers. It’s a sad state of affairs when legislators couldn’t care about what’s best for the country, only what pet projects they can get funded so they can fill their re-election coffers.

Certainly the law contains some beneficial provisions, like outlawing exclusions for pre-existing conditions, allowing adult children to stay on parents insurance until age 26, and eliminating lifetime maximums on policies. But there is more bad about the law than good. It creates an executive branch appointed panel to legislate reimbursement decisions by Medicare, instead of Congress. It creates Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), which sounds responsible, but they are really HMOs for Medicare patients without the ability to contain costs that traditional HMOs have. In the few pilot ACOs from around the country, all have lost money.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to repeal the law, but I think that we can take the good parts of it and improve upon them and repeal some of the bad provisions and pork.

One significant cost saving opportunity missed by Congress was failing to allow Medicare Part D (the prescription drug plan) to negotiate medication prices. Why should we pay more for the same medication in the US than they pay in England or in Canada. In effect, we’re subsidizing health care in other wealthy nations.

As I have stated, the health issue is a fiscal issue. We need legislators with the right priorities in Washington. There will have to be shared sacrifice including a combination of cuts and increases in revenue. Irresponsible behavior in Washington caused this debt and we can’t let it solely fall on the backs of our middle class, poor, and seniors by cutting their benefits and raising premiums. That will only lead to a poorer health quality for all, and result in larger expenses down the road. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Let’s put America first.

You can learn amore about the independent-minded Doctor Rogers at his website, where you can also contribute to his campaign if you're so moved. As for his opponent, {{Buck McKeon}}, it feels like DWT has been writing about him since Lee was still in medical school! I shouldn't be leaking this, but the country's best political investigative journalist is about to break a big one on his and his wife's astounding corruption. More on that soon.

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At 5:23 PM, Blogger Dave said...

The Web site link in the last paragraph is not Dr. Rogers' Web site (it belongs to an insurance consultant with the same name). Although Dr. Rogers' campaign Web site is apparently no longer online, a search for "Lee Rogers Congress" will find many sites related to Dr. Rogers and his campaign. Also see Dr. Rogers' blog regarding his 2013 decision to resign from the NRA:

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Dave said...

A site related to Dr. Rogers' Congressional campaign (if not his campaign Web site) is here:


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