Health care reform has proven far more difficult to pull off for the Obama Administration than they seem to realize. No issue has polarized and paralyzed the nation so completely in recent times. Despite the lofty rhetoric during the election and first 100 days of the current Administration, the discussion over healthcare has degenerated into a knockdown, drag-out partisan battle that would make Newt Gingrich proud. However, Mr. Obama is attempting to include provisions to placate Republican and even popular opponents to his reform plans. He deserves some credit for this, as his majority in the house is unstoppable and barring any legal challenges to the replacement of the late Senator Kennedy (Who has been appointed in a way that may be in violation of the Massachusetts Constitution), he will most likely have enough votes to pass healthcare reform without any Republican votes.
The concepts currently being proposed that seem more agreeable to Republicans and Americans who are balking at the cost and power vacuum caused by a single-payer system are actually a product of the previous Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney: In 2006, Massachusetts was the first state in the union to require all citizens to have health insurance. It is an individual mandate, which requires persons to seek out insurance if their employer does not provide it. The government subsidizes private insurance for persons making up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level and provides plans chosen through a competitive bidding process to persons who do not qualify for subsidized care. The system has been effective in reducing the numbers of uninsured: official estimates by the Division of Health Care Finance indicated that the number of uninsured has reached as low as 2.6 percent in June 2008.
The reform this country needs and the reform that has proven effective is not coming from the likes of Mrs. Pelosi or Mr. Reid but came from Romney almost 4 years ago. The reform, however, has not solved one of the most glaring problems: exploding costs. Tort reform would reduce the cost growth rate but Democrats have yet to propose such a scheme due to the strength of the Ambulance Chaser lobby. As long as doctors and other healthcare providers have to take out millions of insurance money to settle frivolous lawsuits, they will be forced to pass on these costs to consumers. Another factor which reform has not considered is the possible role Medicare and Medicaid are having in inflating healthcare costs. The federal government spends more per citizen than any other country on earth. The money being injected must be having some kind of effect on costs for both government and private entities alike. This factor certainly needs to be researched before we put any more public money into the system.
Healthcare needs to be fixed, but an excellent solution already exists here in Massachusetts. It combines the best of the private system while providing solutions to those who are unable to pay. So when reform passes, remember that Mitt Romney, a Republican, came up with the system that Congress and Mr. Obama will claim is his greatest achievement.