No Gordian Knot

With Kathleen Sebelius getting named to head the Department of Health and Human Services, healthcare reform becomes the hot topic for Washington pundits.

The president’s budget obnoxiously makes a very small segment of the population pay for just about everybody else in his plan to reform healthcare in this country. That has never happened before. Social Security, Medicare and even Medicaid have had funding from a wide swath of the American people. In fact, most folks believe that the money they pay in from their payroll taxes goes into accounts that they get back in retirement benefits. Doesn’t work exactly like that, but it does encourage wide-based support for the program.

Healthcare reform is going to happen. The business sector (especially big business) wants to shed healthcare costs because it is killing their bottom line. They will only be too happy to give that responsibility over to the government.

Healthcare insurance for small businesses is way too expensive. Because they can’t (or don’t) band together to create bigger risk pools, insurance companies charge them very high prices, prices that many small mom-and-pop shops can’t afford.

Healthcare costs also continue to increase at an unsustainable rate (beyond insurance premiums). Part of those costs are driven up by liability insurance to ward off frivolous lawsuits, part by technology and part by the costs of dealing with uninsured and unhealthy patients who drive up the prices for everybody.

Having government take over healthcare may lead to lower costs, but if it does, it will do it through healthcare rationing. Lower quality and long lines will be the result from government-run healthcare. Don’t believe me? Then check out Canada and Great Britain.

There is always an impulse in Washington to attack a complex problem by using a simple solution. But healthcare is not a Gordian knot. A complex problem like healthcare is best solved with a complex solution, not with a meat cleaver like nationalized healthcare.

The Medicare/Prescription Drug reform signed into law is roundly hated by conservatives (unless they are seniors who need access to life-saving drugs) and belittled by liberals, but it has been an amazingly successful program. It hasn’t cost nearly what people first feared, and it has saved lives (lots of them).

This reform bill used competition and public-private partnerships to keep costs low, give choices to seniors, and keep quality high. Yes, the government has paid part of the bill, but the program has worked.

We still don’t know what the new president is going to attempt to do when it comes to healthcare reform. But it behooves Republicans to promote their own solutions, because they can win this issue if they stay unified and present better options.



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