Better options exist for health care reform


Last week, Ken Cooke's column called attention to the sorry state of our health care system and it was absolutely right, something must be done.

The questions are how did we get there and what remedies make sense? So called solutions have been advanced by both parties and haven't gotten anywhere. Aren't we all to blame? The situation we're facing now is that the roof is leaking and the party in power wants to burn the house down and start over while the other rings its hands while offering a few half-hearted suggestions.

Here are some facts for everyone to digest.

• While we unquestionably have the most competent health care in the world, affordability and equal distribution are not available to all who are in need. This needs to be fixed. The 1,300 page, so-called solution on the table is a document that few have read and fewer understand. It extends health care benefits to some 46 million who don't have insurance today.

Rather than make an issue of who they are or why they are not insured, the simple fact is that if we add that many to the health care system and the medical infrastructure remains the same, someone will end up with less care then they would otherwise receive. In as much as the elderly already benefit the most, they stand to lose the most as well. This is not a wellresearched statistical revelation; it is simple an irrefutable logic.

• The position has been taken that we should not have to provide care to those who are here illegally and our President says they won't. Not necessarily true. Even if the final legislation were to specifically exclude undocumented aliens, two facts remain to be considered. One is that the Constitution states specifi cally that any government-mandated program cannot be restricted based on class distinction. Its application to this alien class has been challenged at least twice in the lower courts. These decisions were upheld when appealed to the Circuit Courts and the Supreme Court refused to review those decisions. Even if a health care bill specifically excluded illegals, it is almost certain to be challenged in the courts and would be held as unconstitutional and against legal precedent.

• Another element missing from suppor ter's arguments is the absence of any provision for enforcement of an alien exclusion. Amendments to the proposed health care legislation which made provisions for enforcement were voted down. Twice! The so-called exclusion of undocumented aliens from any health care legislation is probably unconstitutional and likely unenforceable. Remember, politicians seldom say what they mean or mean what they say.

Any public option, if it takes the form of government-sponsored insurance, will impact the insurance industry as we know it. Insurance carriers, who are motivated by profit, as most are, will find it dif- ficult to remain in business if they must compete with not-for-profit government alternatives. Low(er) cost government insurance will spur a migration from the private sector to public alternatives thus the "public option" will become the only one for many of us.

Don't believe this? How many people do you know who are on Medicare also purchase a secondary carrier unless it is offered as part of a pension benefit? How many people have only Medicare? Don't tell me we have Medicare because we like it! The fact is we had no choice. No one asked me if I wanted to contribute part of my salary to Medicare and when I reached 65 my pension provider told me I had to participate and my regular insurance company would offer only secondary coverage.

What will happen is that government sponsored health care will eventually blossom into a European like social welfare system. Anyone think the government will do a better job here then it has done with Social Security or Medicare?

The legislation currently on the table provides provisions for medical consultation for the elderly and those whose health has experienced dramatic change. If the cost of what is being proposed is truly as burdensome as many predict, how can health decisions be made if cost are not a primary consideration? Do you honestly believe that health decisions for the elderly and those in guarded health will not consider costs versus quality of life? The term "Death Panels" might seem a bit inflammatory but if you think about the realities of old age and/or serious health problems and the burden both will place on the affordability of whatever plans the government conjures up, is the leap of faith so difficult that you can't see some bureaucrat opting to save a buck while letting life take is "natural course."

And Ken, you do a disservice to those who are speaking up by referring to them as screamers and part of angry mobs.

I've been to a Tea Party in Georgetown and a Town Hall Meeting in Cameron and don't recall seeing you at either one. In both instances I was witness to well-spoken testimony from both sides of the issue where no one could be accused of not being willing to listen.

So where do we go from here? I suggest we all step back, take a deep breath and find a solution to the specific problems being faced. We can start with tort reform. We can investigate Medicare to determine where the graft and corruption exists and take the steps necessary to correct it. We can help the medical community to organize in such a manner as to take advantage of the efficiencies that already exist.

We can enact legislation to protect both the insured and insurers against the abuses that exist. We can set up community clinics as alternative to using emergency rooms as a primary care facility.

There is no end of the possibilities that are out there if we simply choose to pursue them. Most importantly, we must be willing to join hands with one another to make this happen.

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