St. Charles Herald-Guide

Opposition to health care reform not coming from ‘naysayers’

Dan Juneau - August 24, 2009

According to the latest public opinion polls, most Americans are not in favor of the proposals in Congress to “reform” our health care system.

They are concerned about the cost, the impact on the exploding national debt, and yet another government intrusion into the private marketplace. Seemingly oblivious to that fact, President Obama and congressional leaders claim that the opposition to their health care legislation is coming from “naysayers” who only want the status quo and have no proposals of their own.

To the contrary, numerous health care reform proposals that differ from the president’s have been introduced. Amendments that would change the legislation offered by the Democratic majority have been offered, but none of them stand a chance to go anywhere because the ruling coalition in Congress will not let them advance.

Here is a look at some reforms that have been offered by the so-called “naysayers” but are opposed by the congressional leadership.

How about tort reform? A considerable amount of the increased cost in health care comes from the practice of defensive medicine-ordering potentially unnecessary tests and procedures to protect against malpractice suits filed by patients and their attorneys. The proposals offered by the Democratic majority have not one iota of malpractice reform in them. Why? Because the segment of the legal community that contributes heavily to Democratic candidates will not tolerate it. If the legislation being offered by the Democrats becomes law, doctors and hospitals will continue to pay heavily for malpractice insurance and continue to practice defensive medicine. The cost involved will continue to be passed on to patients and their insurers.

Tax credits for individual medical insurance policyholders is another beneficial policy that is absent in the ObamaCare proposals. Instead of attempting to tax employer-provided health insurance for employees, the “geniuses” in Washington should be extending the tax credits to workers who do not have employer-provided health insurance. That would level the playing field and lower the number of uninsured individuals.

The president and the congressional leadership seem hell-bent on establishing a “public option” of insurance provided by the federal government.  They say it is necessary to “compete” with private insurance companies and “keep them honest.” The public opinion polls, however, show the voters are not at all interested in having the federal government get into the health insurance business. There are thousands of private health insurance companies in America. If Obama and the Democratic leadership want to generate more competition, they can abolish the prohibition against insurance companies not being able to sell policies across state lines. The folks in power in Washington don't support that because what they are really interested in is government-run health care, not more competition.

The first thing any health care reform legislation should do is root out the huge amount of fraud currently afflicting Medicare and Medicaid. Tens of billions of dollars annually are being ripped off by means of overutilization and bogus charges for procedures never done. How can anyone support a further expansion of government-run health insurance when the federal government can’t adequately police the large portion of the health care system it is currently running?

Opponents of the health care legislation put forth by President Obama and his allies have legitimate reasons for fighting it. Many of them have also proposed alternatives that are less expensive, won't add more layers to the exploding federal debt, and will crack down on lawsuit abuse and fraud. Certainly their proposals are fair game for scrutiny. But they shouldn’t be dismissed as simply the mutterings of “naysayers.”