If Not Obamacare...Then What?

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Is it possible to craft a health care plan that anyone will like?

Is it possible to be against the Affordable Care Act … and still be in favor of health care cost containment? Yes, but the question is: how to do it? Hillary Clinton tried to craft a health care reform plan in the 1980s. It fell flat, we are told, because it did not seek the input of Congress and was just sort of given to them, take it or leave it. President Obama tried a different approach, leaving it up to Congress to craft a solution. That plan, widely referred to as Obamacare, was approved by Congress, is understood by almost no one, but is hated by nearly everyone. So, what now? The truth of the matter is that health care has its tentacles in so many facets of the American economy that drafting a solution that pleases everyone – or even a majority of people – may be impossible. Health care costs are a part of everything we do and buy. No matter what you buy at a store, even a pack of chewing gum, has its price affected by health care. From the workers in the factories who made it, to the truck driver who delivered it, to the employees in the stores where you buy it. Those who purchase health care insurance through their employers, also enjoy the fact that their employers pay the larger share – and pass along that cost to the consumers. From the drug manufacturers, to the drug stores, to the physicians, to the medical equipment suppliers, to the insurance companies, to the hospitals and in a thousand other areas, everyone has a stake in the health care market. When you have that many players, and that much money at stake, and any change is proposed, someone is not going to get what they got before – and that person, or that segment, and its powerful lobbying group, will make a lot of noise about it. They will try to convince YOU that such-and-such a plan is bad for YOU, when in reality it may be OK for YOU, and bad for that lobbying segment. I’m not sure what to say about the Affordable Care Act other than this. The system we had before was not working. Anyone who talks about going back to the way things were, has a bad memory. Something had to be done as health care costs were gobbling up larger and larger chunks of everyone’s paychecks. I only hope the collective wisdom of enough people will make it so that our economy can continue to grow, more jobs can be created, health care can be more affordable, and people can still get the medical help they need in a quality and timely fashion. Doing ALL of that may be not be possible. That’s this week’s editorial.

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