Choice of doctor debate reveals Republican hypocrisy

Iowa Republicans are mobilizing against House File 530, which would allow employees to select their own doctor in case of a workplace injury. The workers’ compensation reform has already cleared a subcommittee (over the objections of its Republican member) and will be discussed at a public hearing tonight at 7 pm at the capitol. Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn held a press conference on the issue yesterday in Davenport, and most statehouse Republicans agree with the business interests working hard to defeat the bill.

Opponents claim the bill would let injured workers go “doctor-shopping,” even though the text states clearly that workers would have to designate a personal physician before any injury occurs. The Des Moines Register explains,

• If employees fail to select a doctor before an injury, the employer will select the doctor.

• If either the worker or employer is dissatisfied with the care chosen by the other party, the dissatisfied party may suggest alternative care. If the parties cannot agree, the dissatisfied party may appeal to the labor commissioner and a hearing may be set within 10 work days.

Seems reasonable to me. Shouldn’t every American be able to choose his or her own doctor?

We already knew Republicans don’t really care about the individual’s ability to choose a physician. If they did, they would support a “Medicare for All” approach to health care reform instead of the status quo in which private insurance companies routinely limit patients’ ability to go “out of network” for a doctor.

The controversy over Iowa House file 530 provides further evidence that Republicans don’t respect your right to choose your own doctor. If you’re an employee suffering from a workplace injury, Iowa Republicans think your rights are less important than the bottom line for businesses claiming this bill will cost them more.

Here’s hoping Iowa will join the 35 states that allow workers to choose their own doctors soon. It’s the least the Iowa legislature can do to advance workers’ interests after last month’s prevailing wage bill fiasco. The failure of Democratic leaders to find a 51st vote in favor of that bill provided a real shot in the arm for the Iowa GOP. Party chairman Strawn recently boasted to the Register about how he

sent e-mail alerts to county party leaders asking them to contact their local membership to flood undecided Democrats with phone calls. […]

“There was some very effective use of new technology that helped rally grass-roots Republicans around the state,” Strawn said. “Most all of that was done using these online tools. It wasn’t the old-school phone tree.”

Sounds like the Iowa Democratic Party and its labor union allies need to get those phones ringing down at the capitol.

I’ll have more to say on the doctors’ choice bill later in the week.

UPDATE: After the public hearing on March 10, the Iowa House Labor Committee approved this bill on a 10-6 vote. We’ll see whether leadership can come up with 51 votes to pass it.

  • Bad Bill

    This is a bad bill because I think workers compensation insurance premiums will go up a long way and that will cost Iowans some jobs.

    We have a lot of unemployed people and we do not need any more.

    • we get the picture

      you don’t like labor unions, and you are against whatever they’re for.

      Before you retired, did you want to choose your own physician, or would you have been happy to let your boss run your medical care?

  • Ringing phones?

    My Dem state Rep voted against prevailing wage.  If I heard her correctly three days ago, she said she heard hardly anything from people who backed the bill, but heard lots from opponents of the bill.  I wondered how that could happen.  Maybe I learned part of the story just now.

    • what they don't understand

      is that none of those Republicans who called to demand a vote against prevailing wage will vote for them in the next election–they’ll vote for whoever the GOP nominates. Placating these people on this or that vote will do nothing.

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