Vail Daily letter: Make insurance nonprofit
Vail, CO Clorado
I totally agree with Don Rogers ( My View, Sept. 30) that the GOP is headed for political implosion. The die was cast after the 2008 elections when the GOP decided that it had been decimated in both the House and Senate races ( and lost the presidency) because it had been “not conservative enough.” Wow, talk about read-ing the tea leaves wrong! With that theory in mind, the GOP has given itself over to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and similar hate, fear and anger merchants.
Rogers believes the GOP has “a great opportunity to return to being the party of reason.” Don, prepare yourself for a long wait. If the GOP has any leadership left that can appeal to the center, it has made itself invisible. Once-moderate GOP leaders have caved in, overwhelmed by the emotions whipped up by the hate brigade. Having traveled down that road, there is no return. Every sneeze at the wrong time is now part of recorded history and is easily recalled. The next leadership in the GOP that can again gain con-trol of Congress or a presidency is probably still sucking a pacifi-er.
True enough, the Democrats are so disorganized and dys-functional that they seem an easy target, but the incredible and growing inequality of wealth in the U. S. will allow lib-eral thinking to maintain a strength gained through lost battles. George Will, a beacon of traditional conservative thought for a couple of generations, not-ed recently that there has been a defining change in American values. The more liberal of our population now accepts more government intervention and reduction of some individual freedoms to gain more equality, while the more conservative side of our population has moved more in the opposite direction, to accept more inequality as a result of less gov-ernment intervention and preservation of existing individ-ual freedoms. European coun-tries have rich histories in these fractious divisions, their begin-nings usually rooted in royalty unlike our unique opportunity.
Rogers also mentions the cur-rent health debate, aka the “national circus.” If every lie or piece of misinformation in this “debate” were worth a penny in a lottery, the winner could take home billions of dollars. While Democrats are left swinging in the wind trying to figure out how to pay for universal health care, proposing tax ideas like grass seeds blown in the autumn wind, there is no serious proposal in place that would restrain the run-away cost of health care insur-ance except perhaps a public option that is no more than a proxy or surrogate for the real answer and won’t get to a final bill in any case.
The real answer lies not on our shores but overseas. Yes, those evil, socialized countries that have somehow managed to pro-vide universal health care to their populations with better-quality outcomes than ours and at about half the cost! How dare they? The GOP likes to pick on Canada because it is close and is the only partly socialized med-ical system that has a significant wait time for nonemergency services. Britain also is men-tioned (here is one of your lottery picks), but surprise! Britain has shorter wait times for physician appointments and elective sur-gery than the U.S.
The industrialized world (excluding the U.S.) has a broad mix of health care systems in which there is total socialization (only a few examples), partial socialization (a significant num-ber) and total private industry (also a significant number). In addition to literally kicking our butt statistically, what do all of these countries have in com-mon? They all prohibit health-insurance companies (private in nearly all the cases) from being for-profit. I’m not talking about the provider side of the health care equation – the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, physicians, ancil-lary providers, etc. – I’m talking about the entities that pay the bills. In foreign, industrialized countries, they are non-profit, and they are thriving. Being a good part Scot, I can’t forget an old “Saturday Night Live” skit containing the words, ” If it’s not Scottish, it’s krraauupp!” Well, if you’re not familiar with Scottish brogue, just try to imagine. Unfortunately, the U. S. is caught in the same trap. If it wasn’t invented here …
I’m not a socialist, I’m not anti- capital-i-st, and I’m not anti-profit. I am a person who has decided that universal health care and its insuring side should not be for profit. I say this as a lifetime employee in the health care industry – most of it employed by for-profit companies. Make no mistake. No. 1 priority on my perform-ance evaluations was profit.
The industry we now know as ” man-aged care,” which encompasses HMOs, preferred-provider organizations, Medicare Advantage Plans, etc., got its official start with passage of the HMO act in 1973. All the players at that time were nonprofit, as were the major hospital sys-tems. Over the next decade, major insur-ance companies ( CIGNA, Prudential, Aetna, Equitable, etc.) entered the market and bought many of the small local- and state- based companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations in many states were bought and became for-profit. Merger and acquisition activity that shrinks the industry to larger companies with less competition continues to this day.
Want to bring health care costs under control? We don’t have to tinker with pay-ment schedules to Medicare providers. We don’t really need a public option. We just need to make the health care insur-ance industry in the U. S. nonprofit and keep it private. Switzerland was the last of the developed countries to make that decision, which it did about 25 years ago. The challenge is to develop a transition system in which the investors in for-prof-it health- insurance companies don’t get thrown under the bus. It can be done.
Don, there is a middle ground between Republican and Democratic parties. A lot of us disgruntled ex- Republicans are holed up as independents and waiting.
– Jim Cameron, Avon