Let us go back to our first article of this series on Obamacare, ‘In the Beginning’, and remind ourselves how Obamacare came into being.
In 2007, the Democrats took over both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. For the next two years, under the reign of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), they proceeded to ram through almost every piece of legislation the liberal Democrat Party has ever wanted to pass. They did so without consulting the Republicans in Congress, without asking for input from the Republicans and without the support of the Republicans. And, after Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, they continued to pass almost all the legislation they wanted.
On Christmas Eve, 2009, late at night, without a single Republican vote, the US Senate passed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), known to most of us as "Obamacare". The US House of Representatives passed the bill on March 21, 2010 without a single Republican vote. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010 with no Republicans present. At 2000+ pages, it was one of the largest bills ever passed in American legislative history and it was done by the Democrats, behind closed, locked doors, without any publication of details to the American people and without being read by the voting Democrat legislators.
On June 28, 2012, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision on Obamacare, upholding the constitutionality of the healthcare law. The key provision of the law requires that all individuals in the United States must purchase health insurance.
For some people, this was an historical decision, satisfying their desire and need for a national health program and better health care. For others, it was a disastrous decision which they believe will result in both financial devastation for the country as well as less and poorer health care for the nation.
The rallying cry for the Republican Party, in response, has been that if the Affordable Care Act was upheld, they would ‘Repeal and Replace’ it. “With what?” comes the response.
Over the years, there have been many ideas and suggestions from many people from different sides of the issue. Those various options have never been aired by the media and almost no one is aware of them. Some of the provisions of a replacement law would take only a few changes in already existing laws and probably wouldn’t take much more than 200 pages to enact the legislation as opposed to Obamacare’s 2000+ pages.
Some replacement suggestions have come from the House GOP Solutions Group Health Care Plan to increase ‘Affordability, Accessibility, and Availability’. And, yes, unlike Obamacare, Republicans do have a commonsense Health Care Reform to lower costs and increase access and quality at a price our country can afford. Roy Blunt, a doctor himself, is in charge of the House Solutions Group.
Doc 4 Patient Care, an organization of physicians dedicated to the preservation of the doctor-patient relationship, formed as an alternative to the AMA, likewise offers an 8-point prescription for health care reform in the United States. Their plan would be a good place to start, for physicians must deal every day with concern about the health and well-being of their patients and additionally for the health and well-being of our nation, both physically and financially.
Since 80% of the American people are still satisfied with the health care coverage they have and like their physicians, too, it would be nice if they could keep it (like President Obama promised they could). For those reported 30,000,000 Americans who are uninsured, the alternative options would solve almost all of their issues. We have said before, and will repeat it - there is no reason to force a national healthcare program onto 313,000,000 Americans when there are only 30,000,000 people who are truly in need of medical insurance.
Additionally, there are other provisions that would help solve the high cost of medical care and still provide good quality health treatments; however, until a replacement bill is actually put together and submitted for consideration, it would be impossible to determine the cost savings it might entail. The argument stands, however, that we know that Obamacare will cost billions more than originally projected. Alternative options were never considered, so we’ve never had the opportunity to evaluate and rate them.
From multiple sources over the years, here are the most commonly suggested changes in our current health care programs that could take the place of Obamacare:
1. In the state of Illinois, as well as many others, you cannot buy a health insurance policy offered by a carrier in another state. Changing this to allow insurance purchases across state lines would allow people to buy the coverage they want and need for the best price they can get. Competition is created; premiums go down.
2. All people should be able to buy their own health insurance (like they buy car and home owner’s insurance) and they would carry it with them from one employer to another. Each person has their own portable health insurance, therefore, no more pre-existing issues.
3. Eliminate the special tax allowances for large companies that provide health insurance for their employees. If everyone has their own personal insurance, whether they are self-employed or work for a large corporation, there is no need for tax exemptions or exceptions.
4. Reinstate Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts so people could set aside pre-tax dollars for future health costs. When people are ‘saving’ for their own health care, they’re much more aware of how much they are spending and the savings accounts are there when they need the medical care.
5. Create association accounts and pooled groups for specialized group insurance coverage for small businesses. Those who employ less than 50 employees would be able to provide reasonably priced health coverage for their staff. They can also more easily find coverage for pre-existing conditions where needed.
6. Institute Malpractice Insurance/Tort Reform so that penalties for negligence are limited. Unlimited awards would still be allowed, of course, to provide continuing medical care for the injured party – for a lifetime, if necessary – but the punitive aspect of malpractice suits would be capped. (Texas is an excellent example: In 2003, Texas approved a state constitutional amendment limiting noneconomic/punitive damages in medical liability cases to $250,000 for physicians. Five years later, the cap was credited for slashing liability insurance premiums, boosting the ranks of doctors in the state, and improving medical access to patients.
7. Gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70. This has been done with Social Security benefits and it has worked well. As American life expectancy expands, there is no reason that Medicare benefits by age cannot also expand.
8. ‘Means test’ Medicare payments. There is no reason to pay Medicare benefits to Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, etc.. When someone becomes eligible for Medicare coverage, their income status should be evaluated and those who meet certain financial criteria should not receive benefits.
9. Provide block grants to the 50 states and allow them to administer their health dollars best suited to their own residents. There could be a huge savings in the cost of the Federal government by reducing HHS and all its departments and administrative costs by giving their allocated money back to the 50 states to use as they see fit.
10. Create separate high-risk insurance pools called High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in each state that would provide catastrophic coverage for those young, healthy adults who don’t want to carry full healthcare packages, but would pay a high deductible ($5,000) for coverage in case of emergency or accidental care.
11. Eliminate Federal mandates that cost millions and don’t apply to many of the people who will want health coverage. Why should a 70-year-old female retired secretary pay for the contraception pills, Viagra, in-vitro fertilization and prostate tests for younger women and older men? Why should young adults pay for the colonoscopies for those of us who are 50+ years-old? If you don’t need this type of health care, why should you have to pay for it? Mandates like these add tremendously to the costs of health care. Insurance companies can create a personal policy that fits your specific needs and price it accordingly.
12. Provide transparency for health costs so that patients and families can see what their care will cost them before they enter the hospital, go into surgery or see the doctor. Then, they can plan for the expenses they are expecting.
We can all agree that the health care system in the US is broken and needs fixing. No one has ever suggested that we just go back to the way things have been these last 20 years, although the liberal media chant this mantra on a regular basis.
The following editorial on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, Obamacare's free lunch: National health care premises are too good to be true, explains the negativity over Obamacare by those Americans who can see through baseless promises to its countless mandates which will call forth an impending health care system failure in the years ahead through its implementation:
"America simply can't afford Obamacare. According to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the new entitlement will grow an explosive 6 percent annually from 2017 to 2022, impose a slew of new taxes which will ripple through the economy, and will still leave 29 million people without health insurance. In other words, it even fails on its own terms, which ostensibly is to provide health coverage for everybody. . .
The scary fact is the bureaucrats with the green eye shades haven't realistically added up all the indirect but real costs of Obamacare such as the burden on consumers and the impact of higher taxes on economic growth and employment. It's a mistake to throw more money into a national-health scheme that will leave almost 30 million Americans without insurance and many more with worse access to care."
Ultimately, Obamacare was never about health care. With all of its taxes and multiple departments and panels created, the concept of a national health care program is more about control than medical treatment. Obamacare has always been about managing and directing the lives of the American people and putting that control under the purview of a few people – the President, the Congress, the Secretary of HHS and the IRS. Even with those positions changing during the election cycles, the amount of power focused in the hands of these few people would be enormous. And, once instituted, it will never be withdrawn.
This gives a clear choice in the election this November. Mitt Romney has pledged that his first job if he takes office will be the repeal of ObamaCare. President Obama and his administration have pledged the full implementation of ObamaCare. You can’t get a much clearer choice than that. We will have one chance to make the difference. November 6, 2012.
Other Illinois Review posts in this series:
- Obamacare: In the Beginning - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Tuesday, July 17, 2212 2012
- Obamacare: Death Panels - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Friday, July 20, 2012
- Obamacare: You can keep your doctor - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Tuesday, July 24
- Obamacare: The Popular Benefits - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Friday, July 27, 2012
- Obamacare: Insurance Plans and Government Exchanges - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Thursday, August 1, 2012
- Obamacare: Medicare - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill Friday, August 3, 2012
- Obamacare: Medicaid - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill Tuesday, August 7, 2012
- Obamacare: 20 New Taxes - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill, Friday, August 10, 2012
- Obamacare: IRS and Waivers - Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill Tuesday, August 21, 2012