Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Support For Health Bill Shrinking

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

The most important question about health care that American’s should be asking Congress is: what’s the dang hurry?

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wanted House members to vote on their health care reform bill before recessing in August. Now we know why. The more we learn, the less we like.

Polls show support for the House version of health care reform tanking. In a Quinnipiac University study last week, 57 percent wanted to see the entire idea of health care reform dropped if the cost added significantly to the nation’s deficit.

In a Rasmussen poll, 44 percent strongly opposed the health care reform plan, with 26 percent favoring it. Particularly troubling to Democrats should be the 62 percent of unaffiliated voters adverse to this plan and big government.

National Public Radio found likely voters disapproving of Obamacare 47-42 percent with 39 percent strongly opposed.

In spite of shrinking support, the Democratic National Committee remains in denial, irrationally claiming that vocal protestors showing up at town hall meetings, seeking answers and getting few, are nothing more than angry mobs incited by the conservative right. They say these “mobs” are being bused in by well organized groups whose only interest is in preserving the status quo.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain said: “What Democrats call ‘mob rule’ the average American calls democracy.” Spain went on to say, “These kinds of despicable characterizations of middle class Americans, who oppose trillions in mounting government debt, as elements of a partisan ‘fringe,’ smacks of elitism.”

So what’s bringing these “angry mobs” out in such large numbers? Is it that folks are losing faith in many of their elected representatives? Do they resent the arrogance being exhibited by a government wanting to jam legislation down our throats in spite of elected representatives neither reading nor fully understanding the specifics?

Last week Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., told a packed town hall meeting in Pennsylvania that he and others … “have to make judgments really fast…we split the bill up in order to read it.” If Specter sought to reassure voters about health care reform, he failed.

In New Hampshire, Obama tried to make the case that a public option would not harm or eliminate private insurance. So he decided to contrast the success of UPS and FedEx with the U. S. Postal Service. Obama said the two private carriers are doing fine. “It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” It’s our taxpayer money that subsidizes the troubled mail handler. No wonder most are opposed to government playing a larger role in health care; it’s never efficient. Remember, government doesn’t have to turn a profit to stay in business; they just raise taxes.

Democrats tell us we need to act now because there are 45 million uninsured. Who are they?

The U.S. Census Bureau reports 14 million or nearly one third of the “uninsured” are currently eligible for programs like Medicaid and S-Chip but have chosen not to enroll.

They report 17 million live in households with annual incomes of at least $50,000. Nine million of those make over $75,000 annually. It’s reasonable to assume most could purchase some sort of health insurance if they chose to.

The government figures also include 12 million illegal aliens who do not purchase health insurance. They do however have access to medical care through hospital emergency rooms or county health facilities. Medical personnel are prohibited by law from asking them about their citizenship status.
The government says if illegal aliens knew they would be asked, they’d be afraid to seek medical attention. That’s a great humanitarian argument, but what does it say about the seriousness of government controlling our borders?

This leaves about eight million or just under three percent of our nation’s total population of 307 million without the apparent means to secure health insurance coverage.

It’s also estimated that 16 million may be underinsured. These folks often struggle to make premium payments and their coverage can be limited.

So what do we do to bring down the cost of health care for all without surrendering to a government takeover? First and foremost, we need to slow down.

Any reform should start with making insurance more affordable. One way to do that is to increase competition among insurance companies across state lines; open it up to everybody.

Another way to bring down costs is to have individual states stop mandating specific coverage, adding on benefits for this, that and the other thing that aren’t applicable for everyone or everywhere. This practice drives up the cost of insurance for all of us. Consumers need to be able to contrast and compare many different products, from a multitude of companies, choosing the product that’s just right for them. One size never fits all, and that includes insurance.

We need tort reform. Democrats, in bed with trial lawyers, are reluctant. They’d rather throw us to the curb with a health care plan that will do little to contain runaway costs, rather than anger those that fill their troughs with campaign money. Without tort reform, lawyers will continue playing the “Mega-millions liability lottery,” further escalating the cost of insurance-public or private.

Another issue is the looming physician shortage. Where will we get the doctors for tens of millions of new patients? You may have an insurance paper from the government, but you won’t be able to get an appointment or get into a hospital and get a doctor to care for you.

Restructuring our health care system is too important to rush it. Everyone needs to be involved in the process. Anything less is unacceptable.

Everything Bob suggested will help. Bob got most of the issues addressed accurately. However he did not confront the one real problem with health care that needs to be dealt with honestly, but isn't. The key problem is the issue of how money is spent because of the concentration of health problems among a very small percentage of the population. True a large percentage of us get sick on occasion. However the reality is over the long haul 5% of the population consumes 50% of the health care dollars. They are the chronically ill with serious health conditions, or people in their last year of life. They truly are composed of two different groups but they have a high overlap. Those who have always been chronically ill have a tendency to consume most of the health dollars in the last year too. You cannot change the fact that this 5% is really the problem which we are all paying for.

“That can’t be right” you might say. But it is true. And we know who that 5% are. Right now we are, through “redistribution of wealth” using both government programs and insurance, spreading their costs so everyone pays primarily for the 5%. It is difficult to resolve this issue when so many healthy people, especially the young, don’t see why they should have their wealth redistributed to this small group. Because most people will at some point have some health problems - we ignore the concentration of dollars on this small group and pretend the money is being proportioned equally. It isn't but no one is allowed to ask "Is this fair?" That thought is politically incorrect.


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