Kadner: Health care debate as simple as any life-or-death issue
Phil Kadner email@example.com | (708) 633-6787 June 28, 2012 10:26PM
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:27AM
Rose Marie Meier, of Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood, gets right to the point on the national health care debate.
“Listening to President Obama this morning (Thursday) you would think Obamacare was the best thing on earth,” she writes. “Then came Mitt Romney’s reaction and you would think the opposite.
“Questions, questions, questions. Phil, please do a column on the pros and cons of the health care law.
“I believe this is going to be the point on which the next president of the United States is going to be elected. Please spell it out for us middle-of-the-roaders who need to make a decision before the November election.”
I wish I could do that in the space of a single column, but I could only do that if I were going to be unfair to one of the sides in the debate.
The fact is, this issue is really complicated, and there are valid arguments all around.
The one thing that’s true, in my experience, is President Obama’s statement that there is no “status quo” when it comes to health insurance.
Every year, the cost of my policy at work goes up. Each year, I wonder if my company will terminate health insurance entirely.
Millions of Americans have no medical insurance at all. Many others discover too late that their policies do not cover a surgical procedure they may need or the cost of a very expensive drug.
Something had to change, and that’s why national health care became such a big campaign issue in the last presidential election.
In addition to the previous points, many people discovered that once they developed a serious illness, insurance companies would no longer cover them or their insurance policies had a financial cap that resulted in financial ruin for patients’ families.
Is Obamacare going to resolve all problems? Will it be perfect? No. No plan is or will be. There will be problems in coverage and execution.
That’s no different than what happens to many people today under private employer plans.
I have described in past columns my preference for single-payer national health insurance, which is what most industrial countries have today.
That is not the Affordable Care Act that the Obama administration got through Congress.
That plan is a bastardized version of national health care written, in my opinion, to enrich the health insurance industry, which had been the most powerful opponent of national health care.
Obama guaranteed the insurance industry millions of new customers and billions in new revenue, and they allowed his plan to become the law of the land.
I don’t like it. But it was probably the only way to get any sort of national health care law passed in this country given the political realities.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key provision of the health care law — the ability of the federal government to force people to pay for health insurance — it struck down the government’s ability to force states to expand Medicaid to anyone who is low-income.
That means 20 or more states could refuse to participate in that program, creating a major problem in “cost shifting” — the ability of insurance companies to offer cheaper rates to people who need less care and more expensive rates to those who don’t.
That means the cost estimates of the federal government for Obamacare could change. I don’t know what that impact would be at this point.
I have news releases on my desk from the American Cancer Society and Access to Living (an advocacy group for the disabled) praising the Supreme Court’s ruling and the Affordable Care Act.
I have more news releases from Republican congressmen, conservative organizations and independent insurance agents denouncing the court’s decision and the law.
How you look at this plan will depend on your job security, personal financial standing and personal health history.
A working-class person with a child suffering from a chronic heart ailment requiring lifetime care will see this issue differently than a healthy 25-year-old who doesn’t want the government taxing him for health insurance he “doesn’t need.”
The argument that the American health system is just fine is wrong, Reform is needed. Unfortunately, this plan does little to control health insurance costs, which ought to be key to any national health insurance plan.
I have spent much of my professional life writing about people facing health care problems that have destroyed them and their families financially.
People with family members suffering from a terrible illness should never have to deal with money problems as well.
Trust no one who tells you this is a simple matter. It is literally life and death.