The majority of Americans agree that health insurance reforms are needed. However, reform should involve bipartisanship and be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as would be a single-payer system. Unfortunately, supporters of a single-payer system appear totally oblivious to the abysmal performance, if not failure, of government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Medicare, Medicaid and the VA.
Need I mention Amtrak?
Those stressing urgency for health reform repeatedly point to 47 million uninsured Americans, a politicized exaggeration. Included are 14 million who are readily eligible for Medicaid should they apply, regardless of any pre-existing conditions, and 10 million illegal aliens – leaving realistically 23 million uninsured, or about 8 percent of the population, a figure which does not constitute a national crisis demanding immediate action.
A “government option” would be a Trojan Horse because the government pays no taxes, prints money and can cost-shift deficits to future generations.
Certain practices of many health insurance companies have been totally unacceptable. Legislated national standards can readily prevent this in the future. Anti-trust legislation is available if there is even a tendency to monopoly.
There is much that can be done incrementally:
-- Legislation must be national in scope – the current circus of individual state laws, rules and mandates is intolerable.
-- Tort reform is fundamental to health care reform; defensive medicine is an estimated $200 billion annual economic drain.
-- To maximize competition, insurance must be portable and obtainable across state lines.
-- Eventually health insurance should be decoupled from employment at any level. The employee should be granted commensurately increased pay instead – with full tax credit for health insurance purchase.
-- There should be an individual mandate – requiring all persons to carry a minimum level of insurance through their employer or private purchase. Those unable to afford such insurance, after means-testing and providing proof of citizenship or legal residency, would be provided a sliding-scale medical insurance voucher.
-- Two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third obese (only 9 percent of Frenchmen are so classified). There should be tangible incentives of lower rates offered people for losing weight, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
-- A person’s health care coverage must never be dropped because they become ill.
-- There should be an “insurance exchange,” much like what government workers and members of Congress have. A national “assigned risk pool” could be provided for the “uninsurable.”
Health insurance and regulatory reforms are sorely needed. Rather than serving the immediate interests of trial lawyers, unions, the open border lobby, Big Pharma, the insurance companies or the party in power, reform must serve the best long-term interests of the American people.
Andy Logar, Santa Rosa