With the August recess for Congress underway, President Obama has failed in getting health care reform completed before members of Congress left Capital Hill for the respective districts. With the President’s approval rating dropping rapidly, support for his massive overhaul on the best health care system in the world has also decreased.
The reason Obama wanted health care finished before the recess can be explained in one quote: “I plan to have a lot of town hall meetings.” This was said by Rep. Allen Boyd Jr. (D-FL), a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscal conservative Democrats. When Congress hears from members of their respective districts, and their problems and questions about this legislation, Congressional backing for this type of health care change will decrease to match their voters’ support.
If you listen to Congressional Democrats and President Obama, you would think our health care system is broken and ineffective. However, groups around the world think differently. Recently, the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, ranked our health care system number 1 out of 191 counties for being responsive to patients’ needs. Also, in an ABC News poll, 89% of Americans are happy with their health care coverage.
In President Obama’s vision, he would have the government insure the uninsured, control costs, allow those who have health care to stay in the coverage, and improve the quality of the health care system. Oh, and add in doing all of that without increasing the already record high budget deficit. Do you buy that? No? Don’t worry about it. Neither does he.
The Congressional Budget Office has come out, stating that the Senate bill would not reduce costs, as President Obama has stated as one of his goals. In fact, this legislation would increase health care costs for Americans.
Another big piece of selling this plan to America comes when Obama says if you like your plan you can keep your plan. However, this is not entirely true. The government will move in and look into all the health care plans Americans have. If they deem the plan is unacceptable, you will be forced into a government-approved plan. Also, if anything in your current plan changes, such as a deductible, again, you will be forced into a government-approved option. The Lewin Group has made estimates, and concludes that 118 million people will lose their private insurance.
While President Obama says he will improve the health care system with a government takeover, evidence from other government-run health care systems show otherwise. Politicians who support a universal health care system point to Europe and Canada, where government run systems are the norm. However, in those places, health care is rationed to the population.
For instance, a person might wait to receive open heart surgery in one of those counties while the same person would be treated immediately. Or, if a person wants a hip replacement, the government can refuse to do that, based on the person’s age. Also, there is a reason why that cancer survival rates in Europe lag behind the United States’. In fact, Great Britain, know for its government-run, universal health care system, has even worse survival rates than the European averages. On the other hand, the United States, with faster diagnosis and easier access to treatments, sets the standard for cancer treatment.
President Obama refutes these claims by saying we wouldn’t have a European system. We would create an American system for American needs. Well, fine. If you want American evidence that government-run health care doesn’t work, look no further than Medicaid and Medicare, the health care program for the poor and elderly, respectively. Both are over budget and are draining the federal budget.
However, there currently is a health care bill that could pass the House after narrowly getting approval from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with 5 Democrats joining 23 Republicans in opposition. The full House is expected to vote on this next month after their break.
This bill comes with about a $1 trillion price tag, with some estimates even higher. This piece of legislation will consume 1/6 of our federal budget. Another plan in the Senate has a price tag of $1.5 trillion, according to the CBO. To pay for this, Democrats propose an $800 billion tax increase during a recession, and mandates for employers that will discourage job growth.
None of this is to say some tweaking couldn’t hurt. But let’s remember, no one in this country can be denied care based on money. Our government already pays hospitals each year to care for the uninsured. However, there is room for improvement. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has experience in health care reform. His plan has some points that could benefit the rest of the country.
First, like car insurance, make it mandatory to have health insurance. Currently, there are people who can afford health insurance who decide not to get it. So let’s not pay for those who can buy insurance. For those who actually cannot afford to buy insurance, let’s use the money we spend on free hospital care to help pay for private insurance for these people.
In Massachusetts, a health insurance marketplace was created to help the uninsured to buy private health coverage. Mitt Romney also put in tax penalties to those who do not buy coverage, and to businesses with 11 or more workers that did not buy their employees coverage.
Maybe these ideas will work to improve our health care system. On the other hand, maybe it won’t. However, we owe it to each American to evaluate the system, its strengths and its weaknesses, figure out ways to make our current system better without harming future generations, and to take our time on it. For something that even President Obama says is one of the most important parts of our economy, we cannot afford to move this quickly on health care.