Help, Help, I’m Drowning In The Health Care Reform Storm

I have stayed away from my website for a number of weeks for fear that I would be driven to  write about the current craziness surrounding the various competing health care reform proposals; I couldn’t figure out what I could write that would accomplish anything other than make me feel better about the chaos.  I’ve changed my mind; I am ready to offer a few unsolicited comments.

Let’s not forget why health care reform is desperately needed

In recent debates I have heard little about why health care reform is needed anyway.  The fights (?debates) have become more and more emotional and less articulate; the debate now seems to be more about politics and name-calling than anything substantive.  Please, please let’s all remember that our health care system is a mess and a very expensive one.  If we don’t fix things, we as a society will be diminished in many ways.

Why is the path to health care reform proving to be so difficult?

I cannot really understand if the Obama administration was so naive or so misinformed or both about the challenges that would face any meaningful reform efforts.  I think they understand now.  As I tried to point out in an entry last month,  any efforts to introduce meaningful reforms would be met with fierce opposition from those who felt they had something to lose.  How could anyone believe that health insurers, big pharma, hospitals, doctors, etc., would sit by and cheerfully accept changes in the system that tore into their revenue streams?  Yet we seemed to act that way.  Now, even the “common folk” are up in arms about what they see as provisions in health care reforms that will adversely affect them.  To add insult to injury, those politically opposed to the Obama administration see the health care issue as one which may give them an opportunity to “break” Obama.  So, it’s pretty easy to understand how we got where we are now in the debate.

What do we need to do to get back on the pathway to reform?

I believe that we need to back up and all take several deep breaths and think about the priorities.  In my opinion, the single biggest and scariest problem is the looming bankruptcy of Medicare.  More than 40 million Americans count on Medicare and the numbers are growing daily as our baby-boomers find they’re not babies anymore.  Depending on whose estimates you use, the program will be out of money in 2-5 years.  This is a CRISIS.  We need to address it now.  I don’t want to bore you with the details on how to fix it but you might want to check out some of my earlier entries for suggestions.  The bottom line is that we need to cut costs drastically while improving the program for seniors.  Medicare reform will be ( maybe I should be cautious and say “can be”) the template for fixing the rest of what ails the health care system.

I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you might be on and what your philosophy might be about the role of government.  If we do not fix our healthcare system we will all suffer.  In my opinion almost nothing in the current health care reform proposals ( or in the opposition to those proposed reforms) will take us to where we need to go.

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