Americans want sensible reform

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By The Staff

In his Sept. 3 guest column (about Labor Day), Bil Musgrave  calls for us to commit to workers' rights, but he proposes ways that push a political agenda. 

While people of good faith can disagree about different approaches to problems; I hope we can see a way that doesn't expand government power in our lives or require more tax money to be spent.

It is important to give employees ways to balance the power difference between individual workers and employers. The smaller the business the less imbalance there is since a loss of one valued employee is a big hit in a business with 10 employees.

It is the worker in big corporations who needs the help most often. So why does the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act do away with the treasured secret ballot all Americans enjoy in elections? If employees are to have a free choice they must be free to have a secret ballot so they avoid intimidation from anyone. 

Workers have been protected by the National Labor Relations Board and the EEOC (which deals with worker complaints on discrimination so is there really a need to change the 50-year-old balance created with the NLRB legislation?

Of course there is a political reason for this legislation as unions are able to "encourage" more employees to unionize.  The unions will be awash in more union dues and they can contribute some of that money as campaign dollars to pay back legislators for passing this act  I think it would be far better to tighten up regulation by the NLRB, which has done much to protect workers for more than 50 years, when employers have tried to stop legitimate votes by employees to unionize.

The second point that Mr. Musgrave brings up is the current proposals to reform health care or is it reforming health insurance; the Democrats seem to keep changing the purpose of reform. 

Most Americans want to see some reforms take place but it doesn't require over 1,000 pages and more than  $1 trillion to reform health care in this country.  I see five points that would be acceptable to most people who want to improve the availability of health care for every citizen. Of course there are people who have other motives for pushing particular forms of reform. The first goal is no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Next, bring down the cost of insurance and health care itself. Third would be to have your insurance portable so you keep the coverage wherever you work.  Fourth would be to increase the number of doctors so that every community has readily available health care close by. Fifth would be to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance that doctors must pay.

Before we look at ways to achieve each goal, we need to decide on the best way to have health insurance for everyone.  The current proposals require that every time you change your insurance you will be moved to the public plan. Read the current proposal and see this requirement for yourself. 

Over time that means everyone will be in the public plan, which is a single-payer plan.  Mr. Musgrave gives the talking point that every other industrialized country has coverage for every citizen. 

What he conveniently leaves out is the poor conditions and rationing that occurs in those systems and the chronic high unemployment that exist in Europe.  I belong to several health Web sites due to my spinal condition and other countries' citizens are happy with general care but say don't get sick because you will wait for treatment or be denied treatment. 

Canadian citizens come to the U.S.A. as a safety valve when they are denied treatment or delayed treatment. Where will we turn to for medical treatment if we can't get treatment?

Now I understand that some are denied treatment even in our current system as I had to turn to an attorney and state insurance commission to get my thoracic fusion surgery approved that my insurance denied as not required even though I was becoming paralyzed due to spinal cord compression. The point is that we have a place to turn to if we get denied now but if the government becomes the insurance provider, we have no one to turn to.

One of the arguments that turns up in Musgrave's letter are people that are on Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA as examples that public insurance wouldn't be so bad.

The question he doesn't ask though is how happy people in those programs are about their health care and many are not very happy but have nowhere else to turn.  

My proposal for improving our health care is to recognize that we don't want our health decisions to be based on profit levels while we still want to enjoy the benefits of competition, so how can we bring this about?  We can regulate health insurance companies like we do utility companies. 

The government guarantees the profit level to be 10 percent while requiring overhead cost to be limited.  We gain health-care decisions not based on profit levels and the companies and investors are guaranteed a profit with a return of 10 percent.

Along with this regulation of insurance is health-care savings accounts covered by tax exemptions or government payments for the poor. 

This change will lower insurance cost because insurance only needs to cover catastrophic medical care as individuals will cover normal medical costs with their health-care savings account.  People will be motivated to make good health decisions and control how often they  see their doctors because they will be able to roll over the money left at the end of the year into the next year, building up a savings account over the years. 

Tort reform is needed because it is too costly for doctors to pay such high prices for insurance.  It is not unusual for many specialists to pay $200,000 per year in malpractice insurance.

We need to understand there is not just one option to reforming health care in this country.  Just as importantly, we need to take time to do this right. One big concern I have with the current effort is the rush to push this plan through. Our legislators need time to talk to citizens, doctors, hospitals, drug companies and insurance companies to understand the consequences of any changes they make.

They should not delay efforts at reform but they should take the time needed to create a bill that will create lower cost and greater choices for us.

Newlin lives in Tell City.