The first part of this article was written September 30, 2014. Sadly, very little has changed in the nearly three years that have past and if you compare the two articles you will see that I intentionally left much of the original article alone because so little has changed.
Today, Obamacare is dead but its death has not been pronounced. Some would say it is a good law and that we have to give it more time. Others say its failure is due to the insurance companies not wanting to participate in the Exchanges. Still others would say it was just an overall bad law; too complicated, too obtrusive, and too socialistic for the American Republic. And of course, each political party is quick to blame the other for the laws failures. Regardless of which school of thought you personally fall into, it is clear that our national healthcare system is still in the need of repair.
Again, this overall agreement is shadowed by a multitude of ideas on how exactly we should go about repairing the law. Should we abandon the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and start over? Many say that will never happen since a past President’s has his name attached to it, so politically, his party will not allow that to happen. Should we look at what is working in the law, retain those parts while exploring the unsolved problems not yet addressed in the law and add potential solutions to the existing law? Many say that can never happen with our gridlocked political system standing in the way of progress.
Well, I am not a politician, and though I identify myself as a member of a certain party I do not think one party has all the answers. As a matter of fact, I know that neither party has all the answers. However, we are the greatest nation on Earth, with access to some of the brightest minds on the planet; we should be able to solve this problem fairly easily. Why do I say that? Well, I have learned through the years that every man-made problem can be solved by man. Just to be clear, the Healthcare cost and how we pay for it problem is a man-made problem but it is not a right. I also have learned that to solving man-made problems usually require just a few solutions, commonly three to be exact. I do not profess to know all of the facts of this problem so the solutions that I raise will be based on the facts that I have been able to secure.
The first of the solutions to our Healthcare Repair has little to do with Healthcare but has everything to do with solving problems in an ethical manner. It is also still the biggest problem this country faces today. By the way, it too is man-made. It is call selfishness!
Our political leaders aren’t all bad people and they are not all solely selfish from a personal reward stand point. When I say selfish I mean they only think of themselves in so much that they are not willing to even consider that their stance may not be the right one, that the personal interest groups that they affiliate themselves with are the only ones that have the right answers or positions, that their parties views are the most important and thus the only valid ones, and of course, no one can change their mind yet they themselves know very little about what it is they are considering. If our leaders can’t get past these hurdles, how can they say that they are ethical?
When was the last time you heard a politician publicly state, “I was wrong” or “After considering the all the facts I believe the other party has the best solution to the existing problem.” I don’t know about you but I think I would fall out of my chair if those first words were ever spoken by one political leader and if the entire party ever said the latter I think that I would not survive to witness the outcome of the resolution. The closest thing I remember hearing to this effect was voiced by House Speaker Tip O’Neil referencing one of President Reagan’s solutions to a problem. He said, “The President has the unique ability to bring people over to his way of thinking.”, and it was said with the utmost respect.
We cannot continue to allow our elected leaders to make selfish unethical decisions on our behalf. How we handle the rising cost of Healthcare, the cost of treating the poor, while maintaining the first class level of care we all desire is not a one party problem it is an “everyone” problem. So, I say to them, get over yourselves and look at the true facts regardless of which party presents them. Oh, and remember, decisions which are inherently bias are probably not the right decisions for our country and is definitely not ethical. They have to learn basic Civics; you first represent the entire Country then the constituents of your district.
The second solution should include making healthcare more consumer-driven, not just health insurance. Obamacare attacked the risk transfer vehicle of insurance attempting to make it more consumer-driven; the move was not broad enough. Until healthcare is commoditized as every other product or service in the United States, we will continue to have increasing cost. Obamacare did very little to address this problem. The price for any procedure can vary greatly from State to State, town to town and even hospital to hospital and in many situation there is no way that the patient can even find out in advance how much the procedure will cost and if they do, it doesn’t matter much because the majority of the consumers do have health insurance that pays the claim on their behalf. “Why should I care what it ultimately costs? That is why I have insurance.” Every consumer should care about the cost because if doctors and hospitals had to compete on price, in the same way other big ticket items are purchased in this country, the cost would come down. Completion does that to every product or service it touches in a free market society. Additional steps in controlling price would require revamping the FDA’s stance on developing and marketing our pharmaceuticals. Our drug cost is sky high in this country and the reasons tie directly to another problem, tort reform. We can never get cost down as long as courts are allowed to render astronomical awards against healthcare professionals. Doctors must practice defensive medicine in order to make sure they are not sued. Needless test, drugs, and procedures are administered daily, elevating the cost of treatment to pointless care. If we bring these simple things into check, our cost for healthcare will lower by over 50% overnight.
The final solution which should be considered as soon as possible is addressing the poorly funded Medicare / Medicaid systems. As the longer living baby boomers continue to age they will move from a broken PPACA system into a flat broke Medicare / Medicaid system. Many people believe the two healthcare systems are not integrated but I contend that they are. Obamacare tried to get each State to increase Medicaid funding in order to move more of the uninsured from private healthcare to Medicaid. It did not work because many State budgets cannot afford the current level of Medicaid funding and they knew that if they increased the budget item they would have to go to the voters for outrageous increases in taxes. Many of the State’s politicians would have lost their jobs in the next election. Hard decisions have to be made, and soon. The longer we delay recognizing this elephant in the room the more pain we will all have to endure and the harder it will be to fix the overall healthcare problem.
Three solutions which would begin the process of Healthcare Repair and much more, it would begin to repair a broken government too. Everyone could benefit from these repairs.
If this is my last post, I want all to know there was only one purpose for all that I have written; to have made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Anthony “Tony” Boquet, the author of “The Bloodline of Wisdom, The Awakening of a Modern Solutionary”