Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting back on track with health care reform

The current proposals for health care reform are probably dead.

That doesn’t mean health care reform isn’t possible. It sure is necessary. I know of at least one Sisters business that just eliminate its insurance benefits for employees because they can’t afford it. That’s going to become a common litany over the next few years if something isn’t done.

Don’t like the current House bill or the plans being bandied about in the Senate? Let’s hear some alternatives.

A Steve Lopez column in the L.A. Times a couple of days ago outlined a California surgeon’s ideas. They won’t “fix” health care, but they sure make sense and it seems like perhaps some common sense changes might do some good.

Above all, they might be politically achievable, assuming that our legislators are not completely in thrall to the insurance companies. Perhaps a foolish assumption, but let’s pretend they aren’t just for the sake of argument.

Read the whole column here:,1,2117780.column

The gist is this:

• Dump the "50-state patchwork" of private insurance programs that can't cross state borders and switch to competing national plans that would be required to take all comers, with no exemptions for preexisting conditions.
• Reinstate federal regulations abandoned in the 1980s that limited insurance companies’ fees.
• Move away from employment-based healthcare, with companies paying higher salaries, instead, so employees can shop for a suitable plan and carry it with them from one job to the next.
• Cap malpractice suits.

Obviously this would require more government regulation, but it would not be a “government takeover of health care” as feared by activists opposing so-called “Obama care.” It would also require tort reform, so often resisted by the Democrats who are too influenced by lawyers’ lobbies.

These ideas make sense and seem like they are in the realm of the possible, even in a climate now poisoned by deep rancor.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

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