Now that we have “Health Care Reform”, will we ever be rid of it?

In my last ravings I wrote about how the Health Care Reform Act was several thousand answers to what amounts to only 2 real problems with your health care system.  It’s been signed into law by the President.  I’ve had a number of discussions with many people about how we can get rid of it.

The answer, sadly, is I don’t believe we can.  Even if we’re wildly optimistic and believe that in 2010 the Republicans gain control of the House AND Senate, it’s still not going to happen.  To repeal the bill it will have to be voted on by BOTH bodies and then sent to the President for his signature.  He won’t sign a repeal of the bill, I think that’s pretty clear, and he’ll veto it.  To override that veto takes a 2/3 majority and nobody thinks that’s going to happen.

All of this means that the actual BENEFITS of the bill, that is the government payments and controls in the bill, will begin to take effect before 2012 while President Obama is still in office, even if he turns out to be a one-term president.  Once the benefits start getting paid, and the businesses quit providing health insurance to their employees (which is one of the main goals of the Act), people will be reliant on the government health care plan.  At that point, there will be no turning back from this debacle.  Once these benefits start coming from Washington, they will be permanent, at least until it bankrupts the country.  Health Care will become another in a series of “sacred cows” that can’t be touched just like Social Security and Medicare is now.

There is one glimmer of hope.  Normally all major laws have a clause in them that says should any single provision of the act be found to be unconstitutional the rest of the act remains in full force.  In their haste to ram this legislation through Congress and get it on the President’s desk, this provision was omitted in the law as signed.  Since it’s been signed, it is done and can no longer be amended.  There are numerous challenges to this bill working their way through the federal court system and they will eventually get to the Supreme Court (at least some of them certainly will).  The only hope of getting this bill overturned is for this to get through the courts, have a major section of it found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and in that way making it null and void.

Will this happen?  I give it about an 1:3 chance of being overturned in the Supreme Court, if that, but it is a chance.  If we, the people, are extremely fortunate it will happen quickly and the court will rule in favor of the people.  Time will tell.

-john stricker

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Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm  Comments (10)  
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It doesn’t work in Canada, why do they think it will work here?

Nationalized Health Care, that is.

If you’ve spent any time looking at the health care reform bill that was signed into law (note I didn’t say “passed” as that bill was never properly voted on, but that’s a rant for a different column….) why do the politicians think it will work here?  An article from Reuters this past Monday (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100531/hl_nm/us_health_3) goes into great detail on exactly how the Canadian model is beginning to collapse under its own weight.  Among the primary reasons given are “an aging population” with more and more demands placed on the system with fewer and fewer young people able to pay for it.

With the health care reform bill, we are setting ourselves up in the same position.  The US Population is aging and Medicare, along with the Part B subsidies and the Prescription  Drug plans nearing their breaking points before the bill even comes into effect.

The sad part is, it’s all avoidable.

I don’t argue that some changes had to be made.  Medical costs have been growing at 4 to 6 times the inflation rate for other goods and services.  This plan will not make them any less expensive.  Here’s an idea for a plan that COULD have worked had the Congress not been hell-bent on demanding a total national takeover of health care.  There are two main issues that most US citizens felt needed to be addressed.  First, about 10% of the population was uninsured.  Notice I didn’t say couldn’t afford insurance, I said uninsured.  There is a difference.  Every one of us knows someone (or more than one) family or person that is perfectly capable of AFFORDING insurance but simply chooses to drive that new car, or have that new boat, or live in a house that is barely within their means.  They made a choice to embrace those luxuries rather than buy health insurance.  I’m going to very blunt here and say that I have NO sympathy whatsoever for those people.  None.  Their lot in life, if they ever face a catastrophic illness or accident, was chosen by them and nobody else.

There is a group, however, that simply can’t afford health insurance.  I do have sympathy for those folks.  If you have to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table or buying health insurance any of us would make the same choice, and those people need help.

The second issue is a catastrophic illness or accident that maxes out your HMO or insurance that nobody could have foreseen or adequately prepared for.  Again, this group needs help as well.

The answer to these issues is really not that hard and yes, the government is involved.

To take care of the issue of a catastrophic medical expense I propose the government have a National Catastrophic Health Care plan.  Set a limit (I’ll leave the actual amount to the actuaries to determine) where after that point the national plan takes over.  Let’s say for the sake of discussion that limit is somewhere around $50,000.  The first $50,000 of a person’s health care is that person’s responsibility, beyond that, the catastrophic plan takes over.  This would be funded by taxes, either a direct tax like Social Security/Payroll Taxes or a national sales tax on EVERYTHING, no exemptions.

This would leave the amount below that to be the responsibility of the individual.  For that, conventional health insurance COULD be purchased, if the person so wishes it.  They wouldn’t have to buy it, that’s up to them, but its their problem.  Now think for a minute what that would do to insurance rates if every company KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that NOBODY would ever cost them more than the $50,000.  Rates would plummet, making it more affordable.  Most people aren’t all that concerned about the regular trips to the doctor for checkups, or their kids vaccinations, or the occasional cold.  They can handle that, given some time.  What they can’t handle is when things spiral out of control with catastrophic illness and injury.

Even though rates would drop, some people still couldn’t afford even those costs.  For those people that are below a certain income level, they are charged a % of their income to be part of a national health care pool for low income individuals.  We do that now with low rent housing and even some types of food assistance.  Once their income exceeds a certain point, they are no longer charged that % but the amount under the catastrophic limit is still their responsibility.

We don’t have to destroy what is the finest health care system in the world today to take care of these two issues.  Are there other problems?  Sure there are, but in scope they are minor issues and none of them requires 2300+ pages of new law to address.  They don’t require ordering by threat of imprisonment people take out insurance.  They don’t require nationalizing over 1/4 or our economy to address and make no mistake, friends, that is just exactly what this bill is designed to do.

My next rant will be on what to do about it since the bill has already been signed into law…….

-john stricker

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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