Thursday, October 15, 2009

Health Care - My Almost Final Word

The health care debate is slowly coming to a conclusion. Most of the horses have been traded, most of the spears have been thrown, most of the insults spewed, and most of the numbers added. In my mind, the issues still remain rather basic.

1. Will the bill provide a way for a great number of uninsured working people and people who have worked in our economy to get affordable care if they are sick or injured?

2. Will the bill provide means and incentives for health care providers to reduce costs while maintaining or improving the quality of care?

3. Will the bill provide incentives for Americans to adopt more healthy lifestyles and to make informed choices about end of life care?

Every person who has honestly evaluated the American health care non-system understands that it is far too costly and far too inefficient. We need to make progress on solving these problems, or they will simply get worse. This will not be easy, and it may be incremental, but we must make progress. Anything else will be a major failure of government.

Both radical liberals and radical conservatives have staked out positions in opposition to major planks that will likely be in the final bill. Liberals who represent several major unions object to taxes on the high cost "Cadillac" health plans they've negotiated with employers. For example, they support the idea that teachers should be able to get four pair of new eyeglasses each year, for free. Conservatives in hock to the industry object to the idea that working people should not go bankrupt if they happen to get really sick and incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in doctor and hospital costs. Both groups are hindering progress toward a reasonable solution.

On balance, the conservatives have been most outrageous in their objections. If you listen to them, you soon realize that they never describe the problems with the system or suggest ways to solve them. They are almost 100% negative. Some believe (this is true!) that those unable to pay for hospital procedures shouldn't get them; "survival of the financially fittest" is their motto. Others, when asked why they object to health care reform, say they don't want to pay for illegal immigrant health care, something that is not in the bill. The absurdities go on and on...such as, "don't let the government get involved with my Medicare". In short, I only pay attention to those who seem concerned to improve America's health care, and I don't think those who focus only on negatives are interested in that at all.

I've been pretty close to the health care industry for the past 10 years, and I understand it a lot better than most Americans. Our system is broken; it must be fixed. If we don't make some real progress on reforming it, we have shot ourselves in the foot, or maybe even in the upper leg. So, support those who have positive ideas and ignore the others! Let's get something good done, and soon.


thimscool said...

Amen. Excellent three point summary.

Sonja's Mom said...

Thank you. You summed it up nicely.
I don't think the Insurance Industry is going to make premiums affordable enough for those without health care now without a public option. I am also not sure if health care costs can be lowered without Tort Reform.