Public Healthcare Moving Forward


First of all, I need to give a correction to something I wrote in my last post.  Al Sharpton didn’t make the Hymietown comment.  That was Jackson.  Sharpton called a store owner in a black neighborhood a white interloper.  Sorry for the error.

This week, the Senate Finance Committee voted to move forward with the Baucus bill.  There isn’t an actual bill yet, but they approved it anyway.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of this bill at $893 billion over the next ten years.  They also estimated that 25 million people would still be uninsured.  Talk about value for the dollar. 

The next step is to actually have a bill that contains legislative language.  Then the different versions of the bill will be merged into one single bill for the House to vote on, then the Senate, maybe in the next two weeks. 

What’s in the bill is scary enough.  What’s not in the bill is even scarier. 

Medicare will be cut by $400 billion.  Commissions will be established.  Czars will be put in charge.  And the IRS will oversee the whole thing.  No tort reform, no tax deductions for healthcare payments, no personal medical savings accounts.  Taxes and fees levied against people who make more than some arbitrary amount per year, as well as businesses that don’t offer insurance to their employees.  A Value Added Tax (VAT) to help pay for it all. 

Sounds like a good plan.  Sign me up. 

All of this arguing and political maneuvering and one thing that needs to be addressed is left totally untouched:  the acutal cost of a doctor visit.  The cost of an X-ray or MRI.  What can be done to reduce these costs? 

Tort reform.  Set a cap on the amount of money a person can sue for for pain and suffering.  Put a “loser pays” rule into effect.  These two things will dramatically reduce frivolous lawsuits from dirtbags looking for a quick payday. 

Maybe a federal subsidy to hospitals to see people who aren’t insured.  Sign up at the hospital nearest your home, and go there when you need care.  Carry your hospital’s card with you, and if you need an ambulance, you can be taken there, or taken to the closest hospital for stabilization, then transported to your hospital when it’s safe to do so.  If you are out of town (people who can’t afford insurance are real globe trotters) present your card if you need care and the hospitals can work it out amongst themselves. 

Maybe you could make a tax free deposit in a medical savings account, that you never lose.  If you die before you use the account, your family would have the option of transferring your money into their account, or cash it out and pay taxes on it then.

How about a tax deduction for medical expenses, insurance or care, paid out of your pocket? 

How about hospitals forming groups where people pay them a membership fee every month and then their care is free when they need it, or accompanied by a small co-pay?

We should be able to afford medical care.  Forget about insurance.  The rates are arbitrary anyway.  Insurance companies hire guys to do studies to figure out how much to charge.  Maybe if they had cross state line competition, their prices would be lower.  I’m pretty sure they would be lower. 

The point is, the government should not be running the whole show.  The system will be a failure if they do.  And we’ll all suffer.

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