August 27, 2009

Health Care Solutions for America

Are we not all Americans? We the people are united, not in political discourse, but by a much stronger and enduring bond. We are united by an innate belief in the undeniable rights of Man as articulated so brilliantly by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. No cynic or cunning strategist should be allowed to divide us on these basic truths. The rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were singled out as those most worthy of defending by Mr. Jefferson. While other rights may be considered such as the right to worship freely one may argue that they would be included in the pursuit of happiness. What is not included, and should not be included are necessities, i.e. food, shelter, health or companionship. Rights in this context are endowed by our Creator. Our Creator did not endow us with the right to food. He provided a planet populated with plants and animals for our use. He did not endow us with a right to shelter, He provided materials and a curiosity and intellect that allows us to provide our shelter as we see fit. And - he did not endow us with a right to health care. He gave us multitudes of medicinal plants; He gave us a superior brain that allows for innovation and invention; and He gave us the capacity of sympathy for our fellow Man.

For the sake of discussion let us consider the following as goals agreed upon by all Americans:

- All Americans should have access to quality health care
- Americans with unavoidable chronic illness should not be denied health care
- Truly needy Americans, incapable of self-reliance, should receive assistance from their fellow Americans

My previous post, A Case Against Government Health Care, is an intensive study of the folly of government programs designed to address the above goals. It is critical that you peruse that article before continuing. Any reasonable study of government run programs cannot conclude other than; they are inefficient, costly, encourage unwanted behavior in the citizenry, and through mandates, regulation and bureaucratic control infringe on the liberty of the people and deny the rights guaranteed in the X Amendment.

Therefore let us, within the framework of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of the free market, determine viable methods to reach the above stated goals, as Americans, as neighbors, as children of God. The following solutions are put forth with an understanding that current federal programs cannot and should not be capriciously ended and would necessarily need to be phased out with strict guarantees to all current participants.

Constitutional Free Market Solutions to Health Care:

1. The federal government shall embrace it's constitutional role in regulating interstate commerce and remove all barriers, including federal regulations, to the purchasing of health insurance.
2. All federal regulations regarding the access, provision, delivery, payment or cost of health care services shall be repealed.
3. A state Attorney General, I suggest Texas but I'm prejudicial, shall sue the federal government under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States for usurping the rights of states and the people, thereby creating a SCOTUS opinion that will permanently bar the federal government from interjecting itself into a private industry.
4. Pursuant to Article I section 8 of the Constitution the federal government will pass a law regulating all commerce related to the provision of health care amongst the states in regards to the peoples right to access to services without discrimination. This is the only constitutional power of the federal government in this issue.
5. Congress shall pass a law putting reasonable limits on the amount of damages that can be levied against a health care professional or institution who/which acts in good faith on behalf of their patients without regard to injury by tragic accident. Gross negligence being proven against an individual health care provider shall have no such restriction. Gross negligence being proven against an institution will result in limited damages in addition to penalties and censorship, with multiple offenses resulting in loss of privelege to provide medical services. Additionally, the right of the people to sue for discrimination will be protected. (I am not a lawyer, but this should include discrimination for age in the case of someone who carrys insurance for some period of time. In other words, insurance companies should not be allowed to drop someone's insurance because of an illness or an arbitrary age has been reached. While this will necessarily raise rates across the board, other provisions herein should result in a net decrease in insurance costs.)
6. The states, with discretion to their individual constitutions and in cooperation with county governments will pass laws establishing community health centers for the dispensing of basic health care services. These centers are to be not for profit entities subject to local inspection and control. Pricing for services will be based on known business & accounting standards on a cost + 2% basis. The 2% shall be kept in reserve under state control for emergency assistance during unforeseen circumstances such as an epidemic. (states would also be free to use some portion of this percentage for the indigent care proviso)
7. State government shall levy a tax to be used for indigent health care and care for persons with unavoidable chronic ailments. It would be preferrable for these taxes to expire every 6 years at which time the state legislature should review the program and reinstate the tax.
8. State and federal government should do everything possible within the constitution to encourage competition among the insurance and health care industries. Insurance companies or any other industry should not be allowed to collude in regards to pricing of goods and services. Personally, I am for banning national unions or associations. This falls under the federal governments constitutional mandate to regulate commerce among the states. Collusion for the purpose of setting rates and stifling competition is in direct opposition to the free market and should not be allowed.
9. State boards should be set up to review the cases of citizens with pre-existing conditions in regards to eligibility for indigent or chronic assistance. Criteria should be drafted with attention paid to the circumstances surrounding the loss of coverage. In other words, the case of an able bodied person who voluntarily quits working and subsequently cannot pay premiums and loses insurance should not be equal to the case of a person laid off during times of recession who subsequently cannot afford to keep insurance. Pre-existing conditions are the most difficult for insurance coverage. It is akin to wrecking your car and then asking the insurance company for a policy that will grandfather in the recent crash. No business practice could sustain itself with that policy. However, states should look to fold these citizens back into the insurance customer base after they can afford coverage, perhaps with tax breaks, grants or cooperatives.

I have purposely shied away from specifics such as the type of insurance that should be available. The free market should determine this with the federal government insuring free access enjoyed by all. Personally, I believe that educating the public to the reasonable approach to purchasing catastrophic coverage while maintaining a Health Savings Account, or simply using cash for day to day health care such as colds, cuts, broken bones etc. is the most prudent path for most families in America today. These choices need to be promoted and encouraged, but the final choice remains the individuals. If one prefers maximum coverage for a maximum rate then so be it. If one prefers no coverage at all, then so be it; just don't complain when illness assaults you. Regardless of our choices, good or bad, no person should be denied basic life saving care such as what is being provided in our emergency rooms today. This is NOT the same as treating sniffles and minor cuts and bruises in emergency rooms at your neighbors expense. This does not include long term world class care for fatal diseases such as cancer. If an individual freely decides to expose his/herself to risk, then they do not deserve extensive care. This is wasteful and unreasonable. They should, however, receive basic care and pain relief out of compassion, paying what they can afford, and relief of liability for the remainder.

One of the most important aspects of this plan is that the states are not mandated by federal law regarding their citizens health care. They are required to have equal access to care. The citizens of the country will vote with their feet. States with reasonable coverage and freedom will keep people and business. States with too much involvement will discourage business and have higher taxes. Their economy will suffer, prompting changes. States with too little coverage will lose taxpayers, again prompting changes. This is how the forefathers intended our country to work. They were very smart and intuitive and I challenge all of my fellow citizens to read their writings again and again until it soaks in just how deep their understanding of government and freedom was. They were voracious readers and they studied every government past and present before designing this wonderful republican government we have so far enjoyed. Let us be dutiful in passing these liberties to future generations. Libertas! God Bless America!

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