One-sixth of the American economy.
That’s the amount health care expert Kelly Victory said will be controlled by the federal government if health care reform continues where it’s headed.
Victory, a Steamboat Springs resident, spoke Wednesday night at the Bears Ears Patriots monthly meeting at American Legion Post 62.
She discussed health care reform, specifically the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is designed to reconstruct the health care industry.
“This is the single most important piece of legislature that has been passed in our lifetime,” Victory said. “This isn’t really health care reform, but health insurance reform.”
Victory laid out statistics for the crowd of about 40 people, breaking down the numbers on the total of uninsured Americans, which she said is about 30 million people, 10 million of whom choose not to pay for insurance, 5 million of whom are unaware of their eligibility for health care programs already provided by the government and about 5 million illegal immigrants.
“That leaves 10 million people who are actually in need,” she said. “That’s only 3 percent of the population.”
Victory equated the health care industry to “a three-legged stool,” with cost, access and quality.
“You need all three for it to work properly,” she said.
Victory said, as it stands, health care reform doesn’t have any of the legs in order, explaining that costs have not been properly figured by the Congressional Budget Office to predict the shift from the private sector to Medicare and Medicaid, and the topic of access has been misconstrued by Democratic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi.
“They’ve confused ‘access’ with ‘insurance,’ and insurance is useless without doctors who will take it,” she said.
She said that the third leg, quality, has not been addressed by American politicians.
She added the concept of “quality health care” was problematic in countries like Canada with universal health care, because patients do not receive timely care, resulting in the neediest people “falling through the cracks.”
Ron Gordon, of Steamboat Springs, attended the meeting.
A former physician and co-president of Mobile Hyperbaric Centers, a five-state medical provider, Gordon said part of the problem in making such significant changes in health care is in the expectation it places on medical personnel.
“Doctors will not sign up to work somewhere for just 10 cents,” he said. “There’s no problem with the physicians — they can provide the care. The federal government just needs to get out of the way.”
Victory, herself a former physician, began consulting for the Republican National Committee in 2008. She also has provided health care to numerous Fortune 500 companies, including automakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda.
She noted that part of the reason domestic car companies have been unable to control costs is because of the amount of money companies like GMC have put into employee health care, about $2,400 per vehicle manufactured, a rate which is about $2,000 less for companies for which she was involved.
“Companies have taken what were benefits 65 years ago, and turned them into mandated entitlement,” she said.
Victory said part of the methodology of decreasing health care expenses is in creating incentives for healthier living, particularly by combating chronic conditions such as Type-2 diabetes, which Victory said accounts for 80 percent of health care.
“We can’t manage health care costs if we don’t manage health,” she said. “This bill doesn’t hold anyone accountable for their own choices. Insurance doesn’t mean never having to pay money. You don’t pull into a gas station and expect your car insurance company to buy your gas.”
Lorrie Butler, of Craig, brought up the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association as a way for people in the area to get affordable health care.
“People need education about programs that are already available,” Butler said.
She said more education about the subject is crucial, as many Americans are still unaware that the bill has already been passed into law.
“This bill needs to be de-funded,” she said. “We’ll never get carte blanche with it, but we need people to analyze it and cut it back, piece by piece.”