Friday, February 5, 2010

We can do this

The US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has just reported that U.S. health spending reached $2.5 trillion in 2009, and that health care's share of the economy grew 1.1 percentage points to 17.3 percent. This is the largest one-year increase in health care spending since the federal government began keeping track in 1960. Where I work, our insurance asked for a 35% rate increase to maintain our employee coverage for one more year. The same thing happened to my wife's family business this year. This experience has been repeated all over the country.

hese findings underscore the fact that we are all experiencing an unprecedented "Tax" on the cost of our health care, except instead of coming from the government, it is being imposed by the insurance industry, who simply pass along their cost of paying for our dysfunctional system, while they also charge us for lobbying our Congressional representatives to stop needed reform. This is sick.

It is time to become outraged! The need for comprehensive health care reform to rein in unsustainable spending growth has never been more clear. The increasing burden on American families, businesses, and our state and local governments cannot be sustained.

What can we do now? Is there anything that might attract bipartisan support? Assuming that the minority party is willing to also work on this, I think that implementing a few modest steps now would help tremendously:
  • Require that all be covered, with subsidy for the poor, and real penalties for those who opt out.
  • Eliminate pre-existing conditions and have true community rating.
  • Establish an online health plan marketplace in each state where plans can compete on benefits, service and price. Allow national plans to compete, but do not eliminate local plans.
  • Monitor quality results by plan, and publish the results for all to consider when purchasing.
  • Allow everyone to have an income tax deduction for their plan costs (not just employer plans) up to a certain annual cost.
  • Enact reasonable tort reform legislation that actually directs most of the money to those who are injured.
  • Require payment reform for care delivery, that incentivises provision of primary care, and encourages doctors and hospitals to provide the best care (not the most expensive), and are aware of and held accountable for their quality of care results.

We can do this, but only if our law makers work together and stop playing gotcha like middle school students. Actually, I apologize to the middle school students. They would do a better job.

No comments: