The Republican Health Care Plan is now before Congress. We have been told since the passage of The Affordable Healthcare Act back in 2009 that the Republicans intended to replace that legislation with something much better. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, would appreciate having a comprehensive health care plan that meets the needs of our citizens. The experts tell us that the current plan has not solved the two big health care issues which are access to services and containing costs. The latter is a key factor in our national debt as healthcare costs are approaching 20 percent of our nation’s GDP.
Presidents who set out to reform health care include Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump. Only President Reagan actually signed into law a measure that created universal health care for all. It was called The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA-1986). The goal of that law was to make it illegal for hospitals to refuse care to those who could not pay for it. His law created a major burden on hospitals to fund the care of those uncovered by insurance. It solved one problem but created another.
Like our current law, the hastily put together plan offered by the Republicans is not the solution to our health care problems either. Neither plan deals effectively with the key issues of access and cost.
The health care industry has many internal and external publics. In fact, every citizen is involved in the health care issue and most have opinions on how health care should be resolved. President Trump said, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” At least six previous presidents knew. In fact, providing a comprehensive health care program for our citizens is one of the most complicated domestic problems ever faced by our country.
Who has a plan that will provide access at a reasonable cost? The current plan provides for access but it has not helped contain costs. A lack of cost containment is the single major item that is causing insurance companies to abandon participation.
So, what is the answer? Is it a health plan totally controlled by the government like Canada or Japan? Is it, instead, no government involvement in health care at all? Or, is it some hybrid of these two extremes?
The Affordable Health Care Act was conceived behind closed doors by a Democratic Congress. Now, the Republicans have followed suit and have done the same thing with their proposed replacement. Do we really think that a group of lawyers (Congress) can produce a health care plan that is best for the country? I don’t. We need to leave the defense of our country, the education of our children, and the health of our nation to the professionals with the training and experience to, “make it right.”
Despite all good intentions, Congress is incapable of giving us what is needed. The purpose of Congress is not to be the architect of programs that are beyond the training and expertise of its membership. Instead, the role of Congress is to supervise from a distance while our system of supply and demand, checks and balances, adjusts itself to our nation’s needs. The makeup of Congress is primarily citizens trained in the intricacies of law but not in complicated societal issues such as healthcare.
Who then can solve the health care problem for us? Health care isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It is a United States of America problem. We need a commission made up of professionals from the health care community to solve this problem. When it convenes every interest group within the field of health care should be represented and all “best” ideas should be heard. We need to focus our nation’s resources on a solution and we need our best trained and most experienced minds to focus on the problem together. Partisan politics will not solve this problem.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.