Friday, February 19, 2010

State backlash to federal health care mandate

With Obama's Health care summit less than a week away, many of us are anxious to see whether the original bill is scrapped and a new bipartisan one is forged. Personally, I agree some reform needs to happen. But $848 billion worth, or the $2.5 trillion estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, is that really necessary?

Look, there are major injustices within the current health care system that need to be addressed. Some of these include being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or stopping benefits that cover life-saving treatments. Also, it's imperative to deflate the ballooning malpractice premiums for doctors, that in turn, drive up insurance premiums. Up until here, I am in total agreement with the Democrats.

Where the Democrats go astray and lose my support is with their logic that in order to fix these legitimate problems, then we need to spend nearly $850 billion and create a government health care system. One obvious flaw in this logic that leaps out at me is that the government could simply pass legislation to ban insurance companies from denying coverage or benefits. Oh wait, the current bill does this. Then why does this bill have such a huge price tag?

One reason is this push to get everyone insured. For people that can't afford private insurance, this bill would establish an alternative government health care program. But once again the Democrats lose me. Why is it necessary to spend billions to create a new government program, when people on both sides of the isle have proposed more economical solutions like creating a national cooperative. A coop would solve the woes of many buy allowing citizens to obtain portable private health care insurance that would not be dependent on their employment status. In addition, it would lower premiums because of the huge pool of customers enrolling in such a coop. I just don't get it, this seems like such a rational solution to the average American's health care complaint and at the same time doesn't break the bank. In addition, a coop could go into effect almost immediately without the need to establish a large government agency, thus providing immediate and affordable coverage to the average American.

If time is a factor in delivering relief to the American people, then why is Congress pushing a health care bill that does not go into effect until 2014? Although we'd start paying for this bill now, people wouldn't have affordable health care until 2014. To me, it seems like the policy makers backing this bill are disconnected from the people who are pleading for immediate reform.

While the federal government appears to be out of ear's range, the local state governments hear the disapproval from their constituents and have decided to act. Both Idaho and Virginia have approved state constitutional amendments to reassert their ability to ignore any federally mandated health care bill not supported by their residents. Another 32 states have proposed similar amendments to assert their state rights under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the Unites States.

If Obama truly wants a health care bill that delivers real change, then he has to scrap the original bill before next week's summit. Such an act would be widely perceived as a good-will gesture, while indicating that he is truly committed to a bipartisan health care reform bill. Otherwise, all hope of real health care reform will be dead for some time.

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