I frequently ask myself "How much can I take before I just blow?..." Do our government officials really think they can drop the 'Health Care Solution' on us like one big fix-it-all bomb? Where are the Project Managers? How do you eat an elephant people? One bite at a time. Start breaking this thing up into smaller 'bites' and get something done!And how about working from the bottom up, instead of the top down? It's LEGISLATION FIRST, then Programs!
So, how about some legislation that prevents insurers in the US from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions (they can't ask, and applicants shouldn't tell), age or sex. Make the penalty for health insurance discrimination a severe fine ($50M?) --Make Health Insurance discrimination illegal in the US. This one thing could make insurance affordable for millions of the uninsured.
Here is a tough one, a no-brainer, which in itself makes it almost too difficult for our elected officials.
Redistribute goverment farm subsidies to focus on more affordable foods at the bottom of the food pyramid, so that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are a more affordable option for all Americans. Instead of supporting large wealthy farms (most of whom are at the top of the food pyramid or corn which gets the largest subsidy), support farms with modest margins and help to create new farms that supply fresh fruits and vegetables to areas where it is most needed.
When you tackle this one, revisit the food stamp program and add 'green' stamps for fresh fruits,nuts and vegetables. Then if you increase funding for this program, do it for the healthiest of foods that also promote a reduction of weight, diabetes, heart disease...Green Stamps.
January 1, 2010, Require all companies who offer health care for retirees, to also cover all former employees who had 20 or more years of service (or 15 if you want to cover even more people), at the same rate offered to retirees, effective when they reach age 55.
a-While it will have an incremental cost to a lot of the larger companies, a modest rate increase would still make for a much more affordable option for many individuals and families
b- If they are not 'dumping' older workers or releasing them to save on retirement costs, you could expect to get 1-2% of the uninsured, re-insured. If a company was 'older dumping' you might get a 5-6% effect, at any rate, you would have an ongoing program that would continue to pick up more people each year.
EX: So let's just say, for grins, you have 5000 companies who will now need to pick up 1000 former employees. That's 5 million people (plus spouses/children equals 10M) now covered right off the top. And, it certainly is not going to hurt the Pepsi's, IBM, Boeing, Home Depot, American Express, Procter and Gamble, Nestle, Hershey, Coke, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, Baxter, Abbott Labs, Disney, Cabot, Goodyear, Wal-Marts....
Now for plan B, still keeping simple,
2-- Effective July 1, 2010, Allow some of these large complanies to 'administer their health benefits program' to an identified/qualified uninsured group or pool,(( this group could be those with a pre-existing condition, from failed companies like Enron or employees at small businesses)) in return for a tax break equal to their 'costs + 6%"
EX: Let's say J&J agrees to pick up 1250 families (ave 4 people or 5000 persons total), and that they split the cost of health insurance 50/50 with their employees, so the new group to be insured will pay the same costs the employees pay.. So for an average lets say that is $600 J&J pays per family for health,dental, vision and prescriptions. Annual costs $600 *1250*12mos=$9M *6% administration fee=$540K Earning a $ 9.54M Tax Credit. So that if 1000 companies agreed to pick up 1250 families (1.25 million families*4persons=5million newly insured).
This approach uses an existing infrastructure to help 15-20M people buy into subsidized insurance programs and can significantly reduce the governments costs and allow Washington to focus on a much smaller plan for those that can not afford health care.
It allows a fast implementation.
It gives large companies even more bargaining power with insurance companies.
It allows companies to create a "Good Will Insurance department" that could make money if well run.
There is no 'out of pocket money' from the gov't.
Now you are closer to being able to focus on those who truely can't afford a conventional health care program and those more difficult cost reduction decisions; like allowing emergency/trama rooms to turn away non-emergencies, creating more health care clinics in depressed areas perhaps by grants for hospitals who open and run clinics...