"It would make little sense for the federal government to assume responsibility for the 300 million Americans who are able to fend for themselves."
By Jim Stieringer
June 15, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)--Health care in the United States is not “broken”. We need merely address the 15% not currently covered by some form of health insurance. California is both economically and politically “broken”. However its health system currently covers 24 million of its 30 million citizens. This is a remarkable achievement. A new government program need merely address the needs of those 50 million American citizens (6 million of whom reside in California) who are not currently covered by any form of insurance.
If only 15% of the population is not currently covered by an existing program (e.g. employer provided insurance, privately purchased insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Military, Tri-Care, etc) why are we planning to throw out all of these systems?
“Health Savings Plans” are not the answer. The uninsured population includes many of our most economically disadvantaged citizens. If they were sufficiently affluent as to seek a tax shelter, they wouldn’t likely be amongst the uninsured.
“Single Payer” is a clearly discredited concept except among the most socially liberal advocates. Government control of health care is clearly discredited when viewed through the prism of the failed Canadian and United Kingdom models. Health insurance is currently a competitive market with more than 1,000 licensed health insurance companies in the United States. Do we really want the non-competitive “single payer” determining our health care?
We should first answer the basic questions:
1. Is health care an entitlement?, and
2. Is the nation’s existing system of providers and insurers “broken”?
If health care is an “entitlement”, why not lodging, why not clothing?, why not transportation?, why not entertainment?.
I argue that it would be hyperbole to describe a health care system as “broken” when it already covers 85% of the population.
Why should we believe in the Obama administration’s ten year $1.5 trillion price estimate when other government estimates have been historically low? Only the Medicare Part “D” prescription drug program is currently being operated at a cost below the initial government estimate. Medicare and Medicaid have been world-class budget busters.
Under government health care who will decide on the modality of care, the timing of care and the level of care? Most of us would agree that we should deny a liver transplant to an alcoholic, but what about the thousands of treatment options that fall below that threshold? Why should we agree to allow a government bureaucrat to decide which medical provider will provide our treatment? Why would we want an accountant to determine that the lives of senior citizens are less valuable than those of younger citizens?
It would make little sense for the federal government to assume responsibility for the 300 million Americans who are able to fend for themselves.
The Obama administration is disingenuous when it argues that 15% of the population currently lacks medical care. There is a difference between a lack of insurance and a lack of medical care. Our nation’s emergency rooms currently treat thousands of the low income uninsured each day. It is not legal to deny such care simply because the patient is indigent. The obvious answer is to provide some sort of government paid charity to those currently uninsured individuals. To do so would be far less expensive than throwing out the existing system that serves us well, even if it does not serve us perfectly.
Grossmont Healthcare District
The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.