The health care debate – Parsons Sun: Opinion

In civic classes you are taught that the reason for government entities is to accomplish collectively what we can’t accomplish individually.

The best example is national defense which couldn’t possibly be accomplished individually.

Currently, our political leaders are engaged in a debate as to what role government should play in providing health care to the American people.

The Affordable Care Act requires companies selling health care insurance to provide coverage for doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospitalization, outpatient services, ambulance services, prescription drugs, lab tests, preventative care, pediatric care, mental health care, rehabilitative services and maternity leave among other things.

Under the current GOP plan, states can opt to waive any of the essential benefits required under the ACA, including pre-existing conditions. This provision of the bill would allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums based on a person’s “health status,” i.e. pre-existing conditions, providing the state has a program to help pay the largest claims or has a high risk pool. President Trump continues to tell the American people that he will protect people with pre-existing conditions.

In addition, insurance companies would be allowed to charge elderly people five times the amount that younger people pay rather than the three times the rate allowed under the ACA.

Research done by the AARP indicates that 40 percent of American’s between the ages of 50 to 64 or 25 million people have pre-existing conditions.

The fact of the matter is what this nation needs is to have an all inclusive national health care system funded by every single American similar to the Canadian system. Most of the industrialized nations of the world have comprehensive health care coverage. Why should the citizens of the richest nation on earth not have health care coverage for all its citizens?

Canadians seem to have a different perspective about health care, believing that health care is a right, according to Dr. Philip Caper, founding director of MaineAllCare, a non-profit organization. He recently wrote that he once overheard a Canadian doctor say, “Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Our universal care is the highest expression of Canadians caring about each other.”

Caper observes that the Canada’s tax-financed health care system covers everyone, gets better results, costs about two-thirds of what ours does and is far more popular than ours.

More than 50 national organizations including doctors, nurses, hospitals, teachers, churches and the AARP have come out in opposition of the Republican plan.

One hope for Americans might be the recent formation of a student movement of some 1,500 medical students from 150 medical schools who have come together to save and improve the ACA.

Jonathan Well, medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine, a spokesman for the group, recently wrote, “The cold, indifference of repeal or an anemic replacement is fundamentally not compatible with the principles of medicine.”

Well states that most developed countries have a national health care system and for them medicine is something of a social creed, while in the United States health care is an individual aspiration. “There is no overreaching societal desire to ensure everyone has access,” he says. “That mentality also permeates the practice of medicine.”

Because of the Affordable Care Act, he writes, “We are the first generation of medical students ‘raised’ with a different mentality.”

Even the most casual observer can see that the loser of the American Health Care Act would be the poor, the elderly and the sick, while the winners would the rich, the healthy and the insurance companies.

Certainly, the ACA has its faults and should be improved. Paul Y. Song, M.D., recently wrote in the Huffington Post, that things which should have been discussed by the political parties are what to do about the 29 million people who remain uninsured, the fact that the average insured family pays an extra $1,017 in premiums to cover the cost of care for the uninsured, the fact that there were 1.7 million medical related bankruptcies in 2014 and that at last count there were 3,300 registered health care insurance lobbyists in Washington.

The Republican party’s health care would cut Medicaid funding by $370 billion over the next 10 years which would not only be devastating to the poor of Kansas but also impose a hardship on rural hospitals and their ability to keep their doors open.

The Kansas delegation in Washington should pay particular attention to the proposal to create high risk pools for those who can’t afford normal insurance.

They should read the results of a study of high risk pools by Jean Hill, Ph.D., University of Kansas Medical School, which concluded that high risk pool will never work because they are prohibitively expensive to administer, they are exceedingly expensive for consumers to purchase and offer less than optimal coverage.

If we don’t bite the bullet and create universal health care for the American people, we should at least someway “drain the swamp” of all the money pouring through the lobbyists to influence health insurance legislation. Until the money is taken out of the system, the insurance companies will be pulling the strings.

Recently, John Oliver on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” said that replacing Obamacare with the American Health Care Plan would be like replacing a catheter with a garden hose. Ouch!