“We have to do something!”
This cry is sounded repeatedly by those who are demanding some type of health care reform from President Obama.
Its hard to argue with their logic. After all, health care costs are soaring and [according to some] there are nearly 50 million Americans lacking health insurance (although they are not without health care itself). Insurance premiums are rising faster than income, and Medicare will run out of money in 2019, potentially leaving millions of retirees without coverage, or causing taxes or government borrowing to rise rapidly.
I agree that something needs to be done. However, I disagree about what exactly should be done. Even the proponents of the Congressional plan agree that it is far from perfect, but they continue to repeat the mantra that “we have to do something.”
Well, we do have to do something, right?
The American people arent so sure. According to a new Rasmussen poll, 54% of American voters–a larger majority than the percentage of Americans who voted for President Obama–believe that passing no health care reform would be a better option than passing the plan currently before Congress. Only 35% say that the current bill would be better than “doing nothing.”
And it is now being reported that the President has dropped his demand for a “public option.” If this is true, it could leave behind an expensive bill that does little to change the current system.
This plan is being pushed through Congress at a rapid pace. President Obama has set artificial deadlines for when he wants legislation on his desk, yet health care reform is a massively complex issue that a new administration shouldnt reasonably expect to tackle in such a short time. How this Nation to decide on a complex long term health care reform plan in only a matter of weeks?
I am one of the 54% of American voters who prefers “doing nothing” over passing the current plan. However, that doesnt mean I favor doing nothing in general. Here are some of my ideas for health care reform:
1) End (or significantly reduce) income taxes for individuals working as medical doctors, nurses, medical practitioners, etc.
Doing this could dramatically lower the costs of medical care. Ending or cutting income taxes for medical workers will essentially allow them to earn the same amount of money for charging less for their services. This would also encourage those considering becoming nurses or medical staff to return to school and become certified in their fields, as well as encourage older medical workers to work for several more years (if they are able to keep more of their earnings, they could be more willing to work longer). While this could add to the National debt if spending is not cut, the Nation would save a considerable amount of money in added health care costs. And of course, I would support this plan only if it included spending cuts to balance out the lost revenues.
2) End (or significantly reduce) immigration restrictions for individuals working as medical doctors, nurses, medical practitioners, etc.
Ultimately, costs in any industry, including health care, are dependent on supply and demand. Any doctor, nurse, x-ray technician, etc. who is able to speak English should be offered instant American citizenship. There are large numbers of such people all over the world who are interested in becoming American citizens, but who are unable to do so because of current immigration laws.
3) Allow insurance companies to sell plans across State lines.
Federal law currently prevents insurance companies from selling plans across State lines. This is just plain illogical. This leads to inefficiencies and increased costs for both the business and the consumer. Imagine if cell phone companies had to comply with similar restrictions–a company like Verizon would be prevented from having a National plan, they would have to have a different plan and pricing scheme for each State and D.C, and the cell phone user’s costs would be higher as a result. The same is true for health insurance. Allowing insurance companies to sell plans across State lines would essentially create a National insurance market where customers could go online to a site like e-healthinsurance.com and select a plan from companies headquartered anywhere in the Nation. Taking this step would also allow insurance companies to cut unnecessary staff–potentially passing savings on to consumers. There is no reason for a company like Blue Cross to have to have 51 different organizations to create and price different insurance plans.
Remember that just because we “have to do something” does not mean that we should have to do “anything.” There are good as well as bad reforms, just as there are good and bad treatments for any disease. A doctor with a seriously ill patient should look at all the options and diagnose the patient carefully and as accurately as possible before treating the patient. Treating the patient before diagnosing him and reviewing all of the options could be catastrophic.
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