Jan 24, 2011

Now is the time to improve health care insurance reform

Now that the U.S. House Republicans have placated their extreme base with a purely symbolic repeal of health care insurance reform, they are being urged to stop wasting time and really try to improve health care insurance.

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is also a medical doctor, said it was important to consider the bill the "law of the land" and move on from there. Now, I don’t agree with Frist on much, especially after the Terry Schiavo fiasco in 2005, but this is a great opportunity to improve the law.

Getting this historic, ground-breaking legislation through was a major and difficult task, but now that President Obama has accomplished something that U.S. Presidents since TR Roosevelt have tried to accomplish, now is the time to make a compromise bill even better. The Social Security Act was improved over the years to make it as popular and useful as it is now, and this should be no different.

One way would to make it better would be with a public option or better yet, a universal single-payer system like Medicare for all. Medicare is the most popular health insurance program in the U.S., based on patient surveys, and the program operates with less than 3 percent overhead compared to 15-30 percent by for profit providers, meaning that more money goes to actual patient care.

It would allow small business, which is the backbone of the U.S. economy, to compete with huge corporations, and it would allow U.S. corporations to compete with foreign corporations. Health care costs adds hundreds of dollars to the price of a U.S. auto, compared to Japanese, Korean or German made cars that do not have to factor that in because they have universal health care.

The good news is we are not going backward, and the U.S. Senate is not going to waste time and energy to take up something that does not have enough votes to pass and the President has made clear he will veto. However, that has not stopped Republicans from playing politics with it, which is what they do instead of actually governing.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA., has been taunting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to waste more time and bring up the bill for a vote.

Even more ridiculous were the comments of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who pledged the Senate would vote on a repeal health care insurance reform. Good luck.

McConnell said “he's "perplexed" Democrats wouldn't want to hold a vote on one of their signature legislative agenda items.” Is he that stupid? I can answer that one, as can anyone with a brain: because they already held a vote and won after enduring threats, violence and lots of hard work. Why would they vote on something they have already won, unless Senate Republicans offer something better, like a public option or Medicare for all?

To quote an alleged Republican leader, health care insurance reform is the "law of the land" and we need to move on from there

1 comment:

K. said...

Figuring out where to go next is a tough call. I don't know that the country has the stomach for another bruising battle over access, and I know that the Democrats don't. And while my heart is in socialized medicine or an NHI program like Medicare for All, that would be awfully tough to pull off here because the opposition from the insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical communities would make the fight over the ACA look like a playground brawl.

My thinking is to turn away from access and look at public policy in two areas: (1) Continue the steps the ACA takes that move the govt away from fee-for-service payments in Medicare, and (2) develop the federal capacity to contain chronic disease, including helping fund state and community efforts. Chronic disease is where most of the health care money goes, and I'd really like to put the Republicans in position of having to vote for asthma if they won't be supportive.