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A differing view on health care reform

Sulphur, Ind.

In response to Mr. Cable's column, I think it only fitting to offer another point of view about health care reform and how we should respond or take action on this serious issue.

The issue of health care reform needs to be ad-dressed, discussed and carefully examined if the American people are to realize how it is going to affect them. If we wait until the laws are passed, we might very well end up with health care that has more flaws than we can live with. What we are being told by those in power is sometimes not as important as what we're not being told. It's hard to get a clear picture when some information is left out. To give a blanket "go-ahead" to health care reform as proposed is giving it little consideration or "just a thought."

One of the first things to consider in health care reform is quality of health care today. Contrary to what some say, statistics show that health care in America, as is, is a lot better than many other countries. The German breast cancer mortality rate is 52 percent higher than the U.S.; the prostate cancer rate is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom, and 457 percent higher in Norway. Canadian patients wait twice as long to see a specialist for hip surgery or cancer than those in the U.S. More than 70 percent of Germans, Australians, Canadians, Britons and New Zealand-ers say their health care needs fundamental change or complete rebuilding, while most Americans say they're satisfied with the U.S. health care system. A Fox News poll found that 91 percent of those surveyed have health insurance, 84 percent said that the quality of their health insurance was either excellent or good, and 83 percent said that the quality of the health care they receive from their private insurance is either good or excellent. (A former Canadian who works with a friend of mine in the health field said that we do not want socialized medicine like Canada. He also said that the wait for maternity care was over 10 months. That doesn't sound too efficient!) Can socialized health care do better than the private insurance we have now? It doesn't look like it's working well in other countries.

Another thing to consider is having a choice. If Congress goes on with the bills they're considering, we may have no choice. They can force everyone to a government plan eventually, by forcing compliance with mandates on private insurance companies and invalidating coverage when changes are made (for example, altering co-pays, deductibles, etc.). As if these mandates are not enough, we've been told that it does not matter if you have a pre-existing illness, no insurance company can deny you coverage. That sounds good for the customer, but what company can stand if they insure everybody, no matter what. It's like buying car insurance after the accident; only the U.S. government, who would never survive as a business, can compete when they write rules like this. When they eliminate the competition, we will have no choice about our health insurance.

Cost is another factor to consider. According to many analysts, the Obama budget will give us $11 trillion of debt at the end of five years and $17 trillion of debt at the end of 10 years. These figures may be "way over our heads," but they will affect us, nonetheless, with higher taxes. Wouldn't the most responsible course of action be to get our debt under control first before piling on more? Is Congress so out of control and "out of touch" with their constituents that they don't consider the burdens they are creating? Wasn't this year's stimulus package enough?

A related item to cost is the extra burden that will be put on small businesses. The health care bill in the House will impose a new 8-percent payroll tax to companies not providing health insurance to their employees, in an addition to the current 15-percent payroll tax they are already paying. If the businesses are struggling already, it's likely they will lay off workers to avoid this extra tax. But if the tax is cheaper than the cost of providing health insurance, they may cancel their health insurance, forcing employees into the governments "public option" and just pay the 8-percent fine (source: Wall Street Journal). These businesses create many new jobs desperately needed in times like these, but will they continue to do so, under bigger tax loads?

If we are realistic, we have to consider that health care insurance may be rationed under the socialized system. Cuts will have to be made. One advisor in this administration, when speaking about health care, suggested that it should not be guaranteed to people who are not participating citizens (like someone with dementia).

Seniors may be at risk, too. One provision in the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home). These sessions are suppose to cover alternatives for end-of-life care matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and "the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration" (source: New York Post). Couldn't some seniors be pushed into refusing care?

Still, another concern is that taxpayers may be paying for abortions under the government provided plan. Although key administration officials have led us to believe that taxes won't pay for abortions, it isn't that simple. Washington bureaucrats can be very creative about the wording in laws, and we often have to read between the lines and ask the right questions, repeatedly, to get a clear answer. White House Budget Director Peter Orszag told "Fox News Sunday," when asked if abortion would be covered, "I am not prepared to say explicitly right now." Whatever the "final an-swer," taxpayers should not be forced, many against their beliefs, to fund a procedure that ends a life.

I don't claim to be an expert on health care or its "reform," but I have read what several different sources has said about it, and tried to come up with an informed opinion. The American taxpayer needs to make decisions based on facts and figures and the history of health care with its successes and failures in the world around us. Even educated guesses could have a small part in the insurance programs we need to consider. The trouble comes from the politicians' theories about health care reform and what it should do, whether there is evidence to back it up or not.

It's a shame that there were no town hall meetings held in this area (and many other areas) so we could ask questions and give our opinions to our representative. I don't know if organized groups would have been there or not, but voters often organize, on both sides of the political fence, when they want their voice to be heard or just to make a point. Organized groups need not be "demonized," but only given some attention and "lent an ear." It's not always that "representatives weren't able to communicate with constituents" but maybe that they just weren't willing.

While arguing about which political party is right or wrong, and trying to make every discussion an occasion to play the "blame game," we are being distracted from the real issues. (I think the term "divide and conquer" applies here.) Congress marches ahead, often with more tax burdens and policies that are more cumbersome and inefficient than the ones they replace — not better, just different.

If we can ask any question of our representatives, it might be wise to look them in the eye and ask, "Would you want his health care insurance program for yourself?" And don't settle for an answer of, "This is a very complex issue "

L.A. Timberlake
September 09, 2009

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    A Differing view on healthcare
    September 09, 2009 | 12:24 PM

    Well written, concise, and point by point on the nose about the issue of nationalized healthcare. Tort Reform is an ABSOLUTE in any reform plan, and competition across statelines for insurance companies will
    help in lowering healthcare costs.
    We must protect doctors from lawsuits, and the need to order tests in order to cover themselves from lawsuits.

    J. McCarty Holiday, FL

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