I spent part of my youth in a country with a social "safety net" medicine scheme and benefited from it. Not perfect but it beats treating your poor in the emergency room and then passing the unrecovered costs along in insurance premiums on everyone else. Bad health is a crap shoot, and some sort of universal sharing of the risks is at least part of the properly engineered system to deliver health. So, despite my general preference for individual resposibility and minimal government interference, this is one area I was open to seeing if a sensible redesign of the US health system and some government role might be possible.
Now the USA can argue many things about why the enormous money spent does not add up to great health for all - but one thing everyone pretty much agrees on is the system is wasteful. The estimates range from $300Bn to $500Bn of waste - the low number comes from doing the accounts and the high number comes from benchmarking ratios of budget spent on care versus overall budget against other nations. Ballpark, 20% waste. And mind you, we are not talking about the cost of the insurance industry here. This is 20% waste after your insurance company pays its salesforce, staff, and takes a profit. Ask a Republican or ask a Democrat and they will agree this is a bad thing and one of the main arguments raised to move the issue into gear this year.
Hey, sounds like an ideal opportunity for bipartisan results right? Both parties agree the problem exists, and a few hundred $Bn saved is a plum that many a lawmaker would love to go back to constituents and say "all my work!". But the strange thing is, the bipartisan unity was that none of what they actually did seems to have anything to do with solving this waste.
Instead we got two things. We got a pathetic half effort at allowing a public option for insurance, and we got 2,000 pages of new rules for the insurance companies to navigate. Oh, and for you and me to navigate too. Joy. Will any of this reduce costs or eliminate waste? Of course not. 2,000 pages of federal regulations and a new entitlement agency should be a bitter poison for both liberals and conservatives to swallow.
What was that oath again? "First, do no harm?" Well I guess there is one thing to be thankful about our governing representatives - they are not practicing medicine.
But seriously, Representatives and Senators. This is just so horribly wrong. Can't you feel how badly this process is betraying the people you represent? Is this your idea of representative democracy? Do you think the USA can be great if you keep screwing us around like this?
Clearly Capitol Hill is incapable of seeing how seriously dysfunctional it has become, if this kind of disastrous burden is the only work product it can imagine and deliver.