U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., is partnering with U.S. Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn. to introduce a bill that could allow doctors to offer care to certain patients for free.
Webster’s “Physicians Pro Bono Act” has a pretty simple concept. If he or she provides care for free to some Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) patients, a doctor would get to deduct the costs from their taxes. Webster says his bill also helps the government by reducing red tape and saving money.
“The government benefits because they don’t have to pay out as much,” Webster told Florida Daily. “It would be a much bigger payout of they were to actually perform the service and get a bill from the doctor under Medicaid services.”
On the doctor’s side, Webster says many of them are refusing to accept Medicare patients or payments anymore because of the complexities of the system.
“They get a deduction, but not as much as they would have gotten if they had gotten paid,” Webster said. “Their advantage is they don’t have to go through the bureaucracy of the Medicaid payment system.”
Webster says he is treating the health care problem with a simple set of questions to filter all proposals through. Can we still choose our doctor? Can we afford the healthcare we need? Will it cost less?
“Those are the three principles. It doesn’t have to be one program or another. That is all I am looking for when I look through the plans,” Webster said.
By those measures, Webster believes his bill is a win for everybody involved but there is a major flaw. The bill does not apply to every potential patient but it would cover between 6-7 million adults on Medicaid or children on the CHIP plan.
“It’s not for everybody,” Webster conceded. “It is just a piece of the puzzle and I think it is a good piece.”
Of the 6-7 million Americans who would qualify, they would all be able to pick their own doctors and get quality care.
Webster pointed out to Florida Daily that Obamacare did not cover everyone in the country either. His proposal doesn’t preclude the use of Medicaid or CHIP for more complicated procedures. Often a patient would need to see specialists or have procedures that doctors simply do not do for free for a variety of reasons. Still, Webster said he’s received positive feedback from the doctors he consulted about the bill.
“If they do do it, in a lot of cases, they can skip a lot of red tape and do some good in the community,” Webster said.
What about the larger question of how to cover the entire population? What about making healthcare in general more affordable, getting everyone insured and avoiding long waits for care? Those are questions that have Webster, like the rest of America, frustrated.
“The point is if we were to get in a room, we could probably figure out a lot of this stuff, but it is very difficult to get sides together. Washington is just a tough place to work,” Webster said.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.