Over the past few months I have grown increasingly dismayed by the so-called “debate” on reforming the U.S. health care system. In my opinion, what started as a mostly civilized discussion, has devolved into chaos; it would be nonsense to describe the current goings on as meaningful discussions and clearly not a debate in the usual sense of the word.
I have been astonished at many of the statements I had heard from what I had formerly thought were reasonably intelligent elected officials. I have been no less amazed at the statements from the general citizenry; the amount of misinformation out there is now almost impossible to counter with truth.
Here I am not trying to “peddle” any particular health can plan but only that some degree of sanity enter into the discussions. In my opinion, the problem is two-fold. First it’s that those satisfied with the status quo (insurers, pharmaceutical companies, consumers who are satisfied with their health insurance, etc.) don’t want to risk any meaningful changes in the health care system. Maybe they aren’t entirely happy with the status quo, but they fear that any changes in the system will be much, much worse. What is that expression, something like “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t?” The second aspect of the problem is that politics have gotten in the middle of things (big surprise). It is clear that President Obama really wants health care reform. Those opposed to his presidency, believe that failure of the President to achieve his health care reform goals will “bring him down.”
I have no idea how things will end up. I am not optimistic that anything good will rise out of the mess. If I were running the show, I would back up and start over. The first thing we need is a small group of experts to lay out a blueprint for a health care system as it would exist in the future. The blueprint needs to deal with all of the current components of the system including private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, the VA system, the U.S. Military health care system (troops and their families), and those people currently without any health care coverage. We need to consider how all of these components would fit together or at least coexist. We also need to consider how we would cut costs and slow the rate of future cost increases since, we can’t possibly afford universal health care without controlling costs. We also need to decide how we would pay for health care. There aren’t many options- a payroll tax, higher income taxes, a national sales tax, that’s about it. We haven’t had these critical discussions yet (call it a debate if you wish) and we can’t really move forward without a comprehensive look at what the experts think the system should look like when it’s all put together in about 20 years (if we’re lucky).
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