REGARDING A GOOD HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

PART 1

What constitutes a good healthcare system?

  1. One that is affordable such that every citizen with a meaningful job can purchase it.
  2. One in which doctors and the legion of healthcare providers are paid well for the life-saving services they render.
  3. One in which the health insurance companies can make profits while insuring our health. By the way they are primarily profit-making enterprises and they have to stay in business.
  4. One in which there can be multiple plans such that people with varying levels of income can go for whatever plan their income can afford.
  5. One in which people with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions but one also in which those with pre-existing and possibly expensive-to-treat conditions do not expect to be covered under the same kind of plan that healthy people have.

There are Medicare and Medicaid issues that lie in-between. There are issues of whether taxpayers’ money should fund abortion or contraception. There are issues of whether taxpayers’ money should fund organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which provide abortion, among other services, to women. There are chatter about cutting funding for WIC, the healthy-food supplement program for pregnant women. There are issues with how ridiculously expensive prescription drugs are in this country in comparison to Canada and other industrialized nations. There is a disagreement whether there should be an individual mandate to force individuals who can afford health insurance to buy it or face penalty. There are issues of having all employers, including small businesses who may not afford it, provide health insurance coverage for their employees. And then there are some other issues.

So how does a leader, whose intention is to pass a comprehensive healthcare law that will be fair to the health insurance industry, the healthcare practitioners, and the end users, go about addressing these issues?

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CONGRESS AND THE HEALTHCARE LAW

Yesterday in the US Senate, the maverick that we have long missed, returned. Yesterday in the US Senate, Senator John McCain made a passionate plea to his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to return to the bipartisan way of doing business in the senate so that they can make real progress and avoid the constant gridlock that has characterized legislative business in Congress. Sometimes we lose our way and it will take personal pain to rediscover ourselves. So did it happen with Sen. McCain. Watch his speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday on the need for bipartisanship if you haven’t seen it yet.

For 8 years, the Republican Party campaigned on repealing Obamacare. They demonized the man behind the healthcare law. And they demonized the law itself. And you would expect them to have come up before now with alternative to the healthcare law because if you are smart to know that something is wrong with a thing, you should be smart enough to figure out the solution to the problem.

The Republican Party now controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. In both chambers, they have the majority to pass laws without needing a single vote from members of the Democratic Party. Yet, six months down the line, they haven’t come to terms among themselves on what to replace the law with. Having failed repeatedly to conceive a law they can agree on within their conference, Mitch McConnell and his horde are now set on the path of repealing Obamacare without replacing it with anything.

How can you plan to pull off a roof to a house without having a replacement in place?

That tells you that the problem is not necessarily with the generally acknowledged imperfect Obamacare. An imperfect law that can easily be fixed by bipartisan efforts. The Republican Party simply do not want a legacy for President Obama.

I am an American and I do not place any stock in petty party politics.

Obamacare is not a perfect law just like the Social Security Act and so many other federal programs that were part of the New Deal were not perfect laws. But we had statesmen who were willing to work with the government to review the laws and make them to work better for America. Statesmen who rose above party politics. If the intention of the Republican Party has been for America to have a healthcare law that is affordable and fair to everyone participating in the healthcare market – the insurance companies, the health practitioners, and the end users – they would have spent half the energy and time they spent on their futile efforts to repeal the law on working with Democrats to review the law and make it better. That is how responsible and people-oriented governance come through.

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