Major Issues Still Remain with Health Care Reform

While it sounded like a good plan to have health care reform on the go by Labor Day, the deadline came and went. What’s next?

Next is what the House chooses to do when they sit in September. Some of the ridiculous issues raised over the summer months have up and gone away, but others remain that will likely be a great deal more contentious and have greater ramifications.

The leading issue seems to be the “public plan,” which is a polite way of speaking about a kind of government insurance plan that would be available to those who had absolutely no other health insurance options. While this sounds like a dandy plan on the surface, there are those that insist it would be a government takeover of health care, not always a good thing given the current state of affairs.

On the other side of the fence there are those that make the case that the public plan is ultimately necessary for any kind of reform to be effective. If access to health care is an issue that is supposed to be resolved, then this particular point of view tends to make sense to a large number of people.

Taking a step backward to get a clearer view of the debate, one comes to the conclusion that both sides of the argument have a point, but neither is totally right. That isn’t too much of a surprise given that it’s politicians doing the infighting. Really, the questions that ought to be asked, rather than focusing on poverty and access to health care, might be, “How will the government make Medicaid better and stronger?”

This question makes sense since the original universal health care changes have been tanked for now and the focus shifted to expanding health insurance coverage to certain segments of the population. Obviously, one of those segments is people living in poverty. Everyone should have a safety net for medical expenses, and there isn’t one right now. Instead, families face potential bankruptcy and total financial ruin over medical bills.

Ironically, the one program that should be able to help those in such dire circumstances – Medicaid – doesn’t guarantee either insurance or health care to people in poverty. Reform, if it is indeed on its way, needs to perhaps have Medicaid returned under the federal government’s wing and change the reimbursement doctors are given so they may assist people in poverty. That would make a significant change in the health care system.

If poorer people did have access to health care, it would keep them from having to use hospital emergency rooms. Just think about how much this one small change would mean to the system wide budget that faces escalating costs, thanks to poor people using ERs as doctor’s offices.

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