Healthcare

Pushing and jamming a contentious government public option / single payer health care reform package through Congress without significant public support is a real mistake for our democratic legislative process. We only have to look at the recent 2 million person 9-12 March on Washington to see its potential ramifications.

Looking at this issue with plain American common sense and wisdom, ask yourself the following question. Do Americans leave the United States for their healthcare needs? Resoundingly….No they do not! If however they do on occasion, it is for alternative medical procedures not currently approved by our FDA or to pay a lower fee for the same procedure elsewhere. Now how often have we experienced foreign heads-of-state coming here to have their medical needs met and for that matter individuals, willing to pay where there is already existing socialized government funded healthcare? For example, from the British Commonwealth (Canada, New Zealand, Bermuda, Australia, and England) not to mention France, Germany, Sweden, and the Middle East (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar)?

We only have to look at the recently concluded inefficiently government run “Cash for Clunkers” program to observe what America is potentially in for if we allow 1 out of every $6 (1/6 of our economy, 17%) being controlled by the federal government. Initially funded at $1 billion dollars, “Cash for Clunkers” had to be infused with an additional $2 billion dollars to remain intact notwithstanding dealers from all over the United States dropping out in droves as they were not being promptly reimbursed for the money they advanced to car buyers. Three billion dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the untold billions & trillions of dollars over time the federal government could potentially be directly controlling.

Here is a more recent and relevant example. How can the government claim that it can manage, overhaul, streamline, and reform the healthcare system when it can’t even deliver enough flu shots to prevent the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic which healthcare professionals have seen coming for over a year? It should be a fairly simple assignment to produce and distribute a vaccine – as we have done with regular flu shots for decades. But it was apparently beyond the capacity of the Obama Administration to manage such a routine task.

One year ago, the government told us that we would have hundreds of millions of vaccinations available. At the beginning of the summer, the prediction was scaled back to 40 million doses would be on hand by the end of October. In September, the estimate was scaled back again to 28 million. And, as of mid October, only 11.5 million had been delivered, leaving tens of millions vulnerable to the Swine Flu. Seeing this, how can Americans believe and trust that their government will do an adequate job of managing the nation’s healthcare system?

Presently, government Medicare and Medicaid expenditures represent 50% of all healthcare costs. With the proposed Medicare budget cuts in excess of $500 billion dollars, what you have is de facto rationing of healthcare procedures being available to our seniors. Today, we already have government run healthcare programs; the Veterans Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Does anybody desire those programs as their primary healthcare provider?

We often hear the figure 47 million people being tossed about as being without healthcare that will now be added to the system without any increase of doctors and nurses to accommodate them and without any increase in costs being incurred. This is the equivalent of trying to put ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag or pushing in on a balloon only to have it expand somewhere else. Doing this will result in short order in the rationing of healthcare for everyone.

Now let’s take another look at that 47 million figure again. How many in that number are actually undocumented international citizens (illegals) here taking advantage of the system? Can we agree on 15 million at a minimum? How many others consider themselves to be basically “bullet proof”, as they are young and healthy and do not desire to pay healthcare premiums, or wealthy enough that they will elect not to participate? Another 15 million or so? So what does that really leave us as legitimately uninsured? Roughly 15 million. Now what is the population of the United States today? An estimated 310 million give or take. What percentage of our population does this 15 million represent? Not quite 5%. So… we’re being asked to turn the best run healthcare system the world has seen on its head at the expense of the remaining 95%. This is obviously not about healthcare per se but gaining control over 1/6 (17%) of the U.S. economy. This is not to say that the delivery of our healthcare cannot be improved.

Here are a few healthcare recommendations I believe we can all live with over the next two years until the Election of 2012:

  1. Thoroughly debate all the relevant issues regarding healthcare reform, then act with consensus and incrementally put them into place;
  2. Robustly go after all cases of outright fraud, waste, and abuse of Medicare and Medicaid expenditures and see where we stand there after two years. The current administration says there is 500 billion dollars of waste and abuse associated with both these programs. Really? Go after it and end it….Now!
  3. Institute tort reform now and get rid of the custom of  practicing defensive medicine to prevent potential lawsuits which is driving up the cost of health insurance;
  4. Institute portability with insurance companies now so you can take your health insurance with you when moving across state lines;
  5. Medical pre-existing conditions would not be a disqualifying condition from obtaining health insurance.

The wisdom of attempting so radical a transformation and so extensive and expensive an extension of government’s role in our economy during a major recession attended by a huge budget deficit causes great concern for many. Your freedom of choice is at stake – the relationship today between you & your doctor without a government official in the middle deciding which medical procedures you may or may not qualify for.