President Obama would have the same opponents to real health care reform as he does for the tinkering approach he is taking.
Failing to properly deal with health care means deficit spending for as far as the eye can see as health care is the main driver for budget shortages at the state and federal level. It is also the main driver for bankruptcy and most of the people going bankrupt have insurance but health coverage is usually inadequate when a real health problem hits. So, this is a serious matter for good government as well as health care for Americans. Obama is right to raise it but so far the solutions are inadequate, even counterproductive.
One thing that the Congressional effort to reform health care reform is showing is that a multi-payer approach, i.e. private insurance based approach, is not going to work. When the CBO came out with its report last week the two major issues failed: cost and coverage. On coverage, even the most robust Democratic plan, Kennedy-Dodd, left 37 million uninsured after ten years. If that is the case why bother? Especially when it is going to cost more than $1 trillion.
It is evident to those of us who work on this issue every day (for years!) that the current system is not reformable but must be transformed. We’ve created a system that is the most expensive and inefficient in the world, almost double per capita of any other country, and it results in 20,000 people dying annually due to lack of health care according to the NAS.
When you have hospitals with more billing agents to deal with insurance companies than they have nurses — it is not sustainable. It is crazy that some hospitals have one insurance administrator per hospital bed. And doctors, spending nearly a month a year personally dealing with insurance companies while 20% of their office overhead goes to dealing with billing battles with the insurance industry — no wonder doctors are leaving the profession, causing a shortage.
On top of that businesses have to deal with insurance and so do consumers — writing, calling, filling out forms. It all adds up to 31% of the cost of health care in the U.S. Obama and the Democrats are not confronting any of this with the plans they are putting forward so it is obvious why they will not work.
[A Senator] leaned over and whispered in my ear last week as he was leaving a hearing on health care, “I used to sell insurance. The rule is the bigger the pool the less costly the system. Right now we have 1,500 private insurance plans (he underestimated) and that is inefficient. If we had 700 it would be better but if we had one it would be the most efficient. That is why single payer makes the most sense.” I thought that was pretty good middle American common sense that most Americans would understand especially with an eloquent communicator-in-chief like President Obama.
The only thing the Democratic plans will do is add to the coffers of the insurance industry. It will be a multi-hundred billion dollar annual giveaway to them. They will get richer and as a result more politically powerful, donating to politicians, spending on lobbying and hiring political spouses to be on their boards. The pay to play corruption that prevents health care reform, real reform, will get worse.
I like the Obama circa 2003 when he was a state senator “I’m a supporter of single payer. But, we have to win the presidency, House and Senate before we can have it.”
We will be better off if this bill fails and they start over.
The big question is how can a congress which is bought and paid for in substantial measure by contributions from the special interests which are allied against universal health care be persuaded to eliminate or phase out a very profitable health care industry?
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