Healthcare reform is absolutely necessary. Modest reform will not do the trick, what is needed is radical reform.
Because premiums are escalating out of control, many existing small businesses and emerging small businesses are not even offering healthcare coverage. Large businesses are laying off employees left and right. Many employers are either using temps or contract employees to duck providing healthcare coverage. The net result of these actions is that a higher percentage of Americans do not have healthcare coverage.
Some young Americans are choosing not to sign up for healthcare because they feel they do not need it while they are young. As a result, HMO’s are crying foul because they are losing the bread and butter of their business. These young Americans are using those premium dollars to offset energy increases, food increases and to help save for a rainy day. Families and older Americans are signing up when it is available because they know they most likely will need the coverage in case something catastrophic happens.
Generally, Republicans, Democrats, Big Pharma, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the American Medical Association all want healthcare reform – they just differ in how to do it and how large the reform should be. The Health Insurance Plans do not want new competition from something like a Public Option. Most Republicans and Health Insurance Plans like the potential that all Americans will have to buy health insurance. The Health Insurance companies do not like giving up preexisting conditions. The AMA does not like the public option because they would be reimbursed at Medicare rates that have not kept up with inflation.
It is a given that you cannot please all the people all of the time.
I think it is crazy for the Administration and Congress to push through partisan legislation. I believe the existing Bills can be tweaked to make both versions of healthcare reform bipartisan. I know, everyone reading this thinks I am crazy, but if both parties are really open to meaningful healthcare reform, the following might do the trick. If the Democrats in both Houses and the Administration make a significant effort to alter the existing Bills and the Republicans still hold their ground, then I think the Dems ought to go back to the original basic plan with the public option included and jam it through via reconciliation. If that is how it plays out and Americans in general like the final plan then the Republicans will lose significantly in November. If the plan is not well received by Americans, then Dems will be defeated across the board in November.
So let’s look at an option OTHER than reconciliation and maybe a Bill can be agreed upon by both parties that will be signed by the President.
How to do this, read on…..
- Have the Dems, in a combined closed session; take both Bills and strip out ALL the Pork and Fat. By doing this, the cost of healthcare reform will go down and Republicans will have less to gripe about.
- Take out all the bells and whistles that were added to entice the remaining Dems to sign on to the Bills. Several states got special consideration because some centrist Democrats were the last ones to sign on. By eliminating these special perks the Republicans will be more encouraged to buy into reform and vote for it. The fewer things in the reform plan to dislike the more reason to participate.
- Take out all concessions that were made to entice the Republicans to buy into healthcare reform because that did not work anyway.
- Put the Public Option in but put in an Opt Out feature so any state can vote down the Public Option in a Special Election. If Republican states choose to Opt Out then that is their prerogative.
- Strip Preexisting Conditions from all health plans. If existing plans want to rework their actuarial tables because of this, let them do so. That will only make the Public Option more desirable.
- Regarding Abortion coverage, there are several options that have the insured’s pay for those procedures via premiums and copays – that way no federal funds will be used for abortions.
If these steps are followed, several things will happen – some Dems in the House and the Senate will shy away and not vote for the modified reform plan. That will be okay. A significant amount of Republicans in both houses will choose to buy into this modified reform plan because there are fewer negatives in the Plan. The Administration will be in a better position to discuss how they removed the pork and bells and whistles that the Republicans have been griping about for months. This will show that the Dems have made an honest effort to meet Republicans half way.
Okay, so maybe I have my head in the clouds and that Dems will choose not to modify the existing Bills in the House and Senate and the Republicans will continue to hold their ground. If that happens, I think the President should insist that Dems tackle steps 1 thru 4 and then push it through by reconciliation and hope for the best.
I think all Americans should write their elected officials letting them know that they insist on radical healthcare reform and how they feel about a Public Option.
One other option is for both parties in both houses to meet and work through weekends and holidays until they agree to a solution – no, not a wimpy solution but a meaningful solution to reform.
There are roughly 45,000 Americans dying annually because they do not have healthcare coverage. We all have friends, neighbors, and relatives that might be in the next group of 45,000 Americans to die. I do not want that to happen anymore than you do.
Let’s get busy writing our elected officials.
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