My Turn: Political ad is looking out for profiteers, not patients

For the Monitor
Published: 8/18/2019 6:30:19 AM

The political ad by Doctor Patient Unity regarding government rate setting (bipartisan legislation in the Senate) is completely misleading.

Cloaked as an appeal to protect patients from profiteering insurance companies, it actually is entirely the opposite. It is an attempt to protect the current practice by providers of emergency and emergency-related services of charging rates up to 300% of those paid by insurers (often referred to as in-network rates).

The “surprise” medical bills referred to in the ad are not insurance billing – they are extremely high rates charged by the providers, over and above what insurers pay (if one has insurance). What the insurer doesn’t pay is billed directly to the patient, who most often is totally unaware that the work done or referred by the ER is “out of network” and will result in budget-breaking billing.

It is this preying on patients to maintain income that the ad is protecting, not the patients who are stuck with the bills.

The earnest woman in the ad is advocating for the providers charging immoral rates. Not for “us.” The name Doctor Patient Unity, the organization paying millions for these ads, is anything but. It is advocating for the continuation of the current system, presumably to protect the gross income of some providers.

Doctor Patient Unity is targeting selected senators for defeat in the upcoming elections – again, presumably to threaten them into pulling support for a bill that intends to protect patients. The ad would have one believe just the opposite.

If you doubt this assertion, ask yourself this: Why is this ad being run only in states where select incumbents are up for re-election? A determined web search will reveal almost nothing about Doctor Patient Unity: Who, what or where they really are just isn’t out there.

I see no appeal for grassroots donation by this organization. Clearly they have all the donations they need, which one can only surmise are based on who will profit. The whole thing just doesn’t make sense any other way.

The debate on the methodology/effectiveness of legislative intervention is for another venue. The issues of the uninsured, insurance company profits, drug prices and a host of other issues are Byzantine. And have at best only been partially dealt with by legislation.

The only way to maximize effectiveness of any legislative issue is to become knowledgeable on the choices we are going to make with our votes. This takes effort, and time. Making decisions on advertising, or short social media posts, risks co-option to someone else’s agenda. This ad is a classic example of such an effort.

(Dr. Jon Pearse lives in Concord.)


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