There, I’ve said it. The federal government, and, for me, the New York state government, is wrong on healthcare. Not totally, but they’re both further off than many people know.

Here’s the main issue. Both governments think that the way to fix healthcare is to reduce funds and close hospitals. Now, I will acknowledge that costs have skyrocketed. Our population over the age of 65 has increased much faster and greater than anyone ever thought possible, which is a good thing if you ask me.

However, there isn’t enough coming back in to the government so that they can continue paying higher and higher rates, because the cost of healthcare has gotten steeper. It costs a lot of money to test drugs so they can be sold as pharmaceuticals, and those companies have a very short life of profits for themselves before they lose their exclusive right. That, plus some of the things they come up with are for a relatively small group of people, so they can’t make their costs up in numbers like with something like aspirin, as an example.

Also, the cost of technology that makes things such as surgery not only go smoother, but in some cases eliminates it, isn’t cheap in researching either. Many exploratory surgeries have been eliminated with scopes and camera pills, but all of that still costs money. Knee surgeries that can be done in a couple of hours and have the patient back home before dinner, replacing long stays in a hospital, shows amazing progress, but it doesn’t always reduce initial costs.

But let’s look at the other side. In New York, many private physicians won’t see Medicaid patients because New York state will only pay around $15 for an office visit. As a point of reference, hospitals, for close to 20 years by now, still only get reimbursed $9 for a regular two view x-ray, but the costs for providing those have easily gone up. What else in America has stayed the same cost since 1987?

Also, there are studies, like the Berger Commission, that determine that struggling hospitals or hospitals in some remote areas don’t need to be there, and that will save money for the government. That’s illogical, though, because those patients have to go somewhere, so they’ll just go to another facility that’s probably struggling monetarily and have to pay them instead. Where’s all the savings?

Here’s my point. Hospitals are struggling; insurance companies are not. Not to pick on one in particular, but let’s look at Excellus Blue Cross. For 2005, it’s net income was around $197 million; in 2006, it was $151 million. Their reserves, cash they’re sitting on, is $1.1 billion. If they took just half of one year’s worth of net income and spread it around the hospitals that they actually contract with, all the hospitals in the area would be living life very well, and there wouldn’t need to be any conversation on whether one had to close or not. And that’s only the Blues; think about how nice life might be if some of the HMOs let go of their profits also.

That wouldn’t solve the Medicare and Medicaid issues, since both are more social than healthcare related, but it would be a good start. If governmental leaders can figure out a way to get insurance companies to make sure they’re being fair in their reimbursements, then we can have a legitimate discussion on curbing healthcare costs.