Curing an ailing health care system

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By The Staff

By Hannah Hayes

After hearing the phrase “health care reform,” it’s sorely disappointing to see how shallow the thinking goes. All that’s being talked about is how to pay for exactly the same kind of health care that many Americans already have. The finances of medicine are in shambles, but true reform should go much further if the aim is to raise the quality of life.

Modern medical IQ stops and starts with the magic bullet — a quick fix for a bothersome symptom. Emergency medicine is at the fore. Sometimes diagnostics and treatments leave you worse off, rather than better. Compound that with pharmaceutical drugs loaded with side effects. Is this really the system that people want?

Health care reform must increase awareness of and embrace myriad choices. People have been healing themselves since the beginning of time using plants and touch. These forms endure because they work. The technological progress of the last 50 years offers many advantages, but the art of healing can also be practiced effectively without expensive machinery and outrageously priced hospital stays. For-profit insurance companies aren’t qualified to dictate treatment.

While Democrats compromise to obsequious excess and try to figure out how to pass a bill that will begin to fulfill this human right, Republicans plant their goons at town hall meetings and talk-show hosts plot how to sabotage the very programs that 70 percent of Americans desire.

We have given over knowledge of our bodies to a higher authority who often has one specific point of view and delegates care from that position. Alternative healing at its best is participatory, as opposed to handed down. Nutrition choices are paramount and have become highly politicized. There are excellent books and movies that expose the business of agriculture and meat production. Well-being is a personal responsibility that is best handled in a natural way, and grows into caring for our environment. This is health care reform, and it feels fine.

I don’t think anyone wants the status quo. Administrative costs factor mightily in the U.S., contributing to the highest health care expenses among industrialized countries. Insurance companies are making record profits even during the recession.

Here’s the left’s humanitarian compromise: single-payer. People choose services and providers, there’s no denial of preexisting conditions, you keep what you have if you like it, medical expenses no longer drive a family’s finances, coverage is not tied to employment, complex paperwork fades away because everyone is covered and prevention becomes a priority.

Studies show this can be accomplished with a savings of $1.1 trillion over a decade (Google: Impacts of Health Care Reform: Projections of Costs and Savings). Without an increase in taxes (can’t the excessive military budget be restrained?), Medicare will be shored up and people can stop maligning the post office. We’ll all feel better with universal health care.

By Kelly Weist

If one could wave a magic wand, and have everything one wants in health care delivery and cost … but we can’t. Not even the Boy Wonder, President Obama, can, as he is learning in the debate over his proposal for a public option plan.

Right off the bat, let’s define terms. “Health care” is what you receive from doctors, hospitals and other medical providers. Your health is your responsibility, and the providers can only provide treatment and advice on living healthily or dealing with the consequences of ill health. “Health insurance,” “HMOs” and large health insurance companies are the vehicle that Congress created in the mid-‘70s to pay for the cost of the delivery of health care.

Congress was trying to control costs then. Health insurance had been bartered as extra compensation by employers starting in the ‘40s during wage controls. By the ‘70s, health care costs had exploded, and Congress wanted to do something about it. What it did was create HMOs. Since then, the federal and state governments have further screwed the whole situation up with mandates for coverage of everything from chiropractic to aromatherapy, a refusal to cap liability costs through lawsuit reform, and the restrictive cost structure of Medicaid and Medicare for providers.

A public option, or its grown-up version, a single-payer plan, solves these problems with a jackhammer. The public option plan requires employers to give employees a government-approved plan, at increased cost of course, because the government will mandate universal coverage and a whole bunch of other things. On the other end, the government will have a “council” that will determine what costs will be allowed for all services and drugs under the public option. Three things result from this. People will jump (or be pushed) to the public plan, because the cost will be nothing to the employee. The public plan will ultimately have to ration services and drugs to keep costs down, and that rationing will be determined by lobbying by politically powerful groups. Very quickly, we get to a single-payer plan, with the single payer being the federal government. You’ll be offered abortions and assisted suicide at every turn, but mammograms and fertility drugs will take forever. And don’t you dare get cancer or have a heart attack.

What do Republicans offer to reform the health insurance system? Since we’re not even in the room when it is being written, it’s pretty funny to expect us to offer up anything else. But here’s what actually makes sense: End the deduction for businesses for the purchase of health insurance. Give a tax credit to individuals, which means they get the money back in their refunds. Then, open up the markets. Let insurance companies and doctors and hospitals offer every kind of health insurance plan they can think of. We’ll all get better care, and it will be our choice.

Hayes Rebuttal

Upon observing a patient lying on a treatment table with acupuncture needles inserted, a veterinarian friend started to pass out. What made him swoon was ordinary to me and surprising since I had seen him mid-surgery with an animal’s skin splayed out and the bloody insides exposed on his operating table. What smells good to one person (aromatherapy) might be offensive to another.

If we’re talking about choices, and I think Kelly and I both are, I don’t want an insurance company making them for me. I’ve chosen to self-insure.

Placebo effect is part of every treatment. The warm fuzzies you may have for surgery, I may have for Chinese herbs. It’s the choosing that begins enabling the treatment and, again we agree, the responsibility lies with the consumer. Obesity, diabetes, shin splints, broken legs, etc., can all result from lifestyle choices, and education is key.

The Democrats should do what the majority has elected them to do and pass some meaningful health care legislation this year.

Weist Rebuttal

Actually, reputable medical studies show that “natural healing,” supplements and touch do not work, and reputable economic studies show that single-payer health care will cost a minimum of $1.1 million, not save it. The health care that we have in America is state of the art, and that’s why we have higher survival rates than any other industrial country for every kind of disease there is. Average ages at death have been rising for decades due to better nutrition and Western medical advances. Modern agriculture and food production have eliminated poverty in America and most Western countries, contrary to what you hear every day from leftists.

Hannah’s column gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not only would single-payer eliminate all private insurance, whether through your employer or bought individually, it would allow “activists” like Hannah to dictate what your health care would look like. Full access to supplements and touch but would ban any foods they dislike for political reasons. Western medicine and its incredible advances are why we pay more for health care now than previously, and government regulation makes that worse, not better.

Attorney and political activist Kelly Weist has served on the board of directors of the Colorado Federation of Republican Women and is the co-founder of Mountain Republican Women. She is an adjunct professor of political science at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Hannah B. Hayes is a small-business owner and activist with Evergreen Peace. A recent graduate of Leadership Evergreen with a master’s degree in education, Hayes has remained active in this community through her writing and organizing for 35 years.