There is promise in health care reform bill — we can only hope it works!

March 23, 2010

While I have thought that President Obama had taken on too much in his push for health care reform and used up too much political capital in the process, now that it seems to be going through, I can only hope that it is at least a step in the right direction and that once the smoke clears people will find they like it — and take that Republicans! What are you going to say to that? Probably “oh, we were for it all along”.

But I confess, despite reading things about health care reform for so long and trying to keep my ears (and mind) open, I still barely have a clue what it all means. I do know that I might not be alive when some of the provisions kick in.

(ADD 1: Yes, I know there are supposed to be provisions in the bill (bills) that you cannot be turned down for pre-existing conditions and that you can’t have your insurance cancelled because you got sick, and that insurance companies can no longer cut off, say, your cancer treatment because you have reached a cap in costs.)

What I hope is that it will be as President Obama promised so many times during the campaign — no one who already has coverage they like will lose it or see it hurt by the new legislation.

I also hope that it will actually bring the deficit down — that almost seems counterintuitive, though.

And, I also hope that it will not negatively affect the current Medicare program and other such already-existing and quite popular government health programs.

And, I hope that in fairly short order, no one, but no one, will be denied medical coverage and care of some kind, whether they have money to pay for it or not.

There is a provision that eventually will require everyone to buy health insurance  (the government would help those who truly could not afford it) and face a  penalty if they do not do so. At first blush I did not like that idea. I didn’t like the idea that the government can force someone to pay money to a private company. But of course that is already the case for, say, car insurance (liability coverage). And after talking to someone about the matter, I agreed that it is also not right that some people do not pay for health coverage, but at the same time they expect and the government requires that medical providers do not turn patients away, at least for emergency cases. Often the medical providers (such as hospitals) and the taxpaying and insurance paying public have to pick up the tab.

True story: I was sitting in a cancer support group meeting and a woman sitting next to me told the group that she and her husband had no medical insurance, he being self-employed, but nonetheless the hospital had given him major treatment at its own expense (which, of course, has to be transferred onto the paying patients) . While I was glad that he got treatment, I could only think of all the agony my wife and I went through trying to make sure we could maintain our health coverage while I was not working due to being out while being treated for cancer. Thanks to health coverage paid by a former employer, plus premiums we paid, and the help of family, I was able to get treatment — but nothing was free for us (and my family). A system like that is not fair and equitable.

For those of you who do not want to pay for someone else’s medical coverage, the truth is you are already are doing so. Hopefully, under the new legislation the burden of cost will be spread out in a more equitable fashion.

I personally would prefer universal coverage paid for by all of us through taxes. Some argue there would be rationing. There already is. Some argue that the government rather than patients and their doctors would make the health care decisions. Well, at this time the private health care industry bureaucracy makes those decisions based on its goal of minimizing costs (read care) and maximizing profits.

But at any rate, the pressure from the private health care lobby and from a citizenry brought up on our haphazard so-called “system” works against the institution of what is sometimes called a “single-payer” system of government health care or even “socialized medicine” — although Social Security is so popular that any politician who threatens to mess with it faces retribution at the polls.

At the risk of repeating myself one too many times, I still think that Obama should have just pushed through a program that covers all those not covered now and left it at that.

But if his so-called reform really works, the public is sure to take a liking to it and then look out — Republicans will be wishing they supported it and will likely change their tune.

In conclusion I say to President Obama:

“You better hope this thing works!” Because if it does not, you have wasted a lot of political capital and not only you but all of us who fear the return of disastrous Republican control stand to suffer the dire consequences.

P.s.

In a discussion with someone near and dear to me who tends to support the liberal position, it was suggested by this someone, nonetheless, that maybe if people had to pay for health care coverage or just not get it (no government protection) then maybe people would appreciate the cost and people would buy coverage and be more particular to get what they pay for. That would be the libertarian (not liberal) free-market approach.

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