Friday, August 14, 2009

Once again I ask ...

... is the major problem people have with the health care reform the "government option"? If so, can't the people writing the bill just say "To hell with it, we'll yank that part of the bill"? Is it so integral to the reform that the reform is worthless without it?

If this is the extent of the problem, then it seems to me rather easy to fix it. Part of me thinks that if this was the only major issue, it would have been fixed already, but then I remember who works in Washington DC on these issues and I begin to think that maybe it is that simple after all.

Addendum: Recently I blogged about the state of Massachusetts and their "universal health care". It seems that not everyone is pleased with that system either. The author of the OP-ED thinks we should head in the opposite direction of what I suggested and expand Medicare to cover all US citizens. Of course, if I read it correctly, the author implies that this would be the end of insurance companies:
A modest, progressive tax would replace what people currently pay out of pocket. This program would pay for itself by eliminating the wasteful administrative costs and profits of private insurance companies, and save $8 billion to $10 billion in Massachusetts alone.
Without profits, these companies cease to exist. How many times has the United States of America intentionally undercut a business (seemingly contra-capitalism) to install such massive programs? I can imagine it having happened before, but I can't think of any offhand ... at least at the magnitude we're now potentially talking.


Philip H. said...

This is wher eyou and I part ways. The "market" approach ahs been an abysmal failure at delivering even basic healthacre to all Americans, much less anything considered good. A wholly market approach - which is what Republicans want and Blue Dog Democrats will support because they are DINO's - will not substantialy change the quality, price, or efficacy of the nation's healthcare system.

Tom said...

Actually Philip, by some of the stuff that I have read, prices will drop if we mandate everyone to have health coverage. More coverage means lower cost since risk is shared by a larger pool of people, a majority of whom are healthy individuals who do not need much health care.

Has Medicare and Medicaid increased the quality of health care? The poor payouts seems to me to indicate that the exact opposite is occurring. These programs are forcing doctors to see patients in bulk from them to see a sort of return on the investment they've made in their education. Moving further in that direction seems to me to be a way to ensure that people do not take on the financial hardship of medical school because it will become increasingly difficult to work their way out of that debt. That would reduce the quality of health care.

And then we have the issue of the massive abuses of both federal systems. Moving further in that direction, without proper safeguards would mean that that abuse would just increase.

So, those who can afford insurance should be made (a la car insurance) to get health insurance ... or pay a penalty. That penalty money should be directed towards boosting up Medicare and Medicaid which can (already does in some cases) cover those who cannot afford health insurance. And these two programs need to be monitored more closely. If we can hire thousands of new IRS agents to track down fraud cases, perhaps we need to do the same for Medicare and Medicaid.

Is this not a workable solution?

Philip H. said...

Sadly, much of what you advocate was in the original House Bill whenit cleared committee . . . .

Tom said...

If what I advocate were to pass muster and be put into law, I wouldn't fire off a letter of opposition to my lawmakers either before or after the vote.

I know (before anyone points it out) what I suggested via Medicare and Medicaid (in the fourth paragraph) seems contradictory to what I wrote in the second and third paragraphs, but I don't think it is. I DO think that Medicare and Medicaid suffer from problems, some of them REALLY problematic ... but I think they can be rehabilitated if done properly. If they cover a portion of our country (i.e., those who cannot afford health coverage), not everyone, it should be sustainable.

As things stand, I don't think the status quo is sustainable for anyone, and so I agree something needs to be done. I just really disagree with the need to push something ... ANYTHING ... through as quickly as possible. This isn't something that should be rushed. It needs to be done right the first time.