The question posed to our editorial staff was: What should a Health Care Reform bill look like?
Read their responses below.
Benjamin Mumma, Class of 2010
Our current system isn’t perfect. But no system is. Our system is great for those who have it, which is evidenced by the high percentage of people in polls who like their current insurer. For people who don’t have insurance though, our system relies on their ability to pay up front for expensive procedures, obtain emergency care for free, or go without treatment.
To remedy this, democrats have a variety of proposals at the ready. All of them look to reduce the number of people who live without insurance. This isn’t a bad goal, but as usual the political methods being proposed are nothing short of atrocious. Republican have, rightly, opposed such proposals due to prohibitively high costs, and for the simple reason that the government should be in the health insurance industry.
But there are things the government can do to fix our health care system with the tools they should have available. Tort reform would be a great start. The current system forces doctors to practice defensive medicine – performing extra tests in case of lawsuit. According to the Pacific Research Institute, this process costs over $200 billion a year. While a system is needed to compensate patients who were wronged, the current system is for the benefit of the lawyers more than it is for the patient’s benefit.
Tort reform would be simple, effective, and popular. But politics is getting in the way. The result is a bill that will make health care in the United States worse, not better. Other changes could be made alongside tort reform: allow insurance policies to be purchased across state lines, and allow individually purchased plans to be tax exempt just as employer purchased plans are.
These solutions are out there, and they can work. But they are being drowned out by irrational ranting on both sides. Un-American protesters and death panels aside, there are real improvements to the health care system out there, and they need all the support they can get.
Brandon Sherman, Class of 2010
Two words: Public option. Note that this modest, hardly even progressive measure does not amount to a “government takeover” of health care. Actually, I wish it did, but it doesn’t even come close. Save for curbing some of the most outrageous abuses of the private insurance industry, President Obama’s health care plan will leave this market largely unchanged.
A public insurance option accomplishes two indispensible goals of reform by lowering costs and increasing coverage. If every American had the option of a public insurance plan, private insurers would be compelled to lower their premiums in order to remain competitive. Compared to the rising cost of premiums in the status quo, this measure would provide an effective tax cut for all Americans. The choice of public insurance would also provide coverage for many of the 30 million Americans who currently can’t afford it.
Costs will only come down, however, if health reform includes an individual mandate – a requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance. This rubs many libertarians the wrong way, but it shouldn’t. Even those who are convinced of their invincibility will fall ill. Those individuals push the cost of their care onto the rest of society, and their absence from the ranks of the insured hurts the bargaining power of individuals to demand lower premiums from their insurance providers. Even then-Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney advocated the implementation of an individual mandate as a matter of “personal responsibility.”
If these measures bring down costs, increase choice and competition and compel Americans to exercise greater personal responsibility, why is there so much opposition on the right? Easy. Republicans are using the playbook from 1993 – the last time they killed health care reform. As in the case of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, welfare-state programs inherently undermine the GOP’s knee-jerk “no-government-is-good-government” position. In 1993, opposition to health care reform was shrewd political strategy. In 2009, the situation is no different.
Trevor Drummond, Class of 2010
On the eve of Ted Kennedy’s death, after I finished a glass of my favorite brut and lit some scented candles (outside the dorms, of course…), I reflected on the life and legacy of the deceased Lion of the Senate, who is now being propped-up post-mortem, like a gangly overweight puppet and paraded about as a means to finance an ill-conceived health care “reform” package that is more agenda-ridden then, well… most of the things that Teddy ever touched.
The fact is, the liberal stronghold (a figurehead of power as they’ve recently proven, with their so-called supermajority and no way to pass anything meaningful other than flag-waiving and blame-chasing resolutions) has toted their socialization of medicine package as reform, and chastised those who don’t care to see their doctor become yet another supplicant of the state as against reform.
This is both wrong and immoral. And, incidentally, I should address morality, as I was asked a very popular question while debating this very topic at Lehigh last year. I was asked if I put costs or means or anything else ahead of care, and given yet another sob story on someone who was “lost in the system” and died young.
I replied that, yes, I do believe in picking “who shall live,” but it’s not with government panels and legislation, but with common sense.
At present, while I agree that the scope and nature of the term “preexisting condition” needs to be reviewed, those who smoke or are overweight, or use illegal substances are subject to additional tariffs and, in some cases, die from their disorders from a subsequent inability to pay.
I’d frankly rather see the obese or maligned die in small numbers, than face a government who (in an attempt to be brutally fair) will banish snack foods, sugar, cigarettes (I like to consider them a form of blue collar population control), and of course, the lovely glass of bubbly that I’m enjoying as I push my Matchbox cars off the surface of my desk into a pail of water, reflecting again on the life and legacy of Ted Kennedy. And I don’t want to stop those who eat to excess or smoke from celebrating their freedom and doing it, so long as they don’t force their burden onto me.
We need reform. We need health care providers to have certain restrictions on this “preexisting conditions” crap that is so often used to prevent paying customers from receiving care, and we need tort reform to reduce the costs of that care. We don’t need 150% Medicare-grade cost overruns and “public health initiatives” in the form of more restrictions on our foods and habits. After all, wasn’t it the liberals who chastised me for questioning what someone can do (or eat, or smoke, as the case may be) in the privacy of their home?