A working group at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha has more than a passing interest in the case challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law.
The group has been studying the overhaul of health care for the past two years, attempting to understand its breadth and scope.
A member of that group, Chief of General Internal Medicine Dr. Tom Tape, calls it an enormously complicated law, complicated even further by the court challenge. Nebraska is one of 26 states challenging the constitutionality of the health care law approved in 2010.
Tape says the working group worries how the country will address the health care problem if the court strikes down the law. He says the country needs to find a “viable way forward” to address the problems if the law is overturned. He notes the federal government established a safety net for health care in 1986 when it mandated that emergency rooms must treat whoever walks in the door, regardless of ability to pay. But, Tape points out that isn’t a very efficient or effective way to distribute health care.
Tape says spending a little on the front end could reap big savings on the back end.
“I feel as if, if we could provide better up-front care and not allow people to get to that extreme condition where they’re showing up in an emergency room with something like a heart attack or a gangrenous leg that we would be better served, overall,” Tape tells Kevin Thomas on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln.
Medicare has been a federal government health care program for the elderly and disabled since 1965, but Tape says it provides a poor model for federally funded health care, because it doesn’t pay doctors and hospitals at the same rate as private insurance companies.
“So, although it’s expensive to the federal government in the aggregate, it also is providing health care on a per person basis perhaps less expensively than if these people were insured through private insurance companies,” according to Tape.
The Supreme Court began three days of oral arguments on the challenge to the health care law’s constitutionality this morning in Washington.
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Kevin Thomas interviews Dr. Tom Tape on UNMC health care working group on KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln [11 min.]