Healthcare one step at a time

Editorial Board

Last week President Obama tried to deflect the national conversation to the always-pressing issue of health care. While there is nothing wrong with talking about as complex an issue as health care and what we can do to help solve the financial crisis that is Medicare and the pay me first health insurance industry, one has to wonder when the president will start to seriously address the root issues that comprise the health care debate.

Many people in this country don’t realize that the issue of health care is more than just how much insurance will cost and the introduction of yet another money soaking entitlement program in the form of the so-called “public option”.

The claim that the president made during his address to a joint session of congress last week was that he would fund health care by, “cleaning up the waste and abuse that exists within the current system.” Perhaps the cynic in all of us sees the idea of a government program that operates efficiently as an oxymoron.

The more realistic solution to health care that the president alluded to is a more indirect approach. Before Americans will ever realize a dime of savings or an increase in productivity of the health care system, our elected officials should stop trying to fix it all at once and intead concentrate on the core issues. Each issue that affects health care is in themselves major plank issues and should be addressed seriously as separate issues that get Congress’ undivided attention.

The first and possibly most fundamental issue to health care is tort reform. One of the cornerstones to medicine today according to most experts is what is referred to as “defensive medicine”. Today’s medical professionals live in constant fear of litigation and the loss of their medical licenses because they didn’t order expensive and mostly unnecessary tests that would leave them clear of any possible fault while wringing more and more money out of the system and as a result driving up costs.

As the president spoke about, as a result of living in fear of so-called “junk lawsuits” the system incorporates unneeded inflation of costs and thus a large amount of money is lost for no real reason other than a well-meaning medical professional doesn’t want to be taken to the cleaners in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Enforcing responsible penalties thru making plaintiffs responsible for the cost of a defeat in court is a worthy idea or possibly the capping of awards should be another idea. Why should someone who has been wronged for a small amount of costs be able to sue for hundreds of millions of dollars?

The other major issue that was alluded to by Rep. Joe Wilson in a roundabout way is the issue of illegal immigrants draining out the system. While America has always been termed the land of opportunity, one has to think that coming here perhaps wasn’t as big of an issue when the country had half the population it does today and half of the life expectancy as well.

Elected officials use the platitudes of coexistence to justify the robbing of resources from what would otherwise be spent on citizens who deserve to be taken care of more so than the illegal interlopers who bring with them a lack of education and increase in criminal activity due to their inability to gain legal employment in a lot of cases. In the case of health care, the fine line of social responsibility versus economic realism muddies the issue. When does the cost of being a hospitable port to the wretched poor of the world collide with the reality that it costs money to care for the millions of people who come here without regard to those that are here already and the untold cost they heap onto an already stressed economy.

To ensure health care gets to those that deserve it, some sort of comprehensive immigration reform must be passed before we can truly see the end of the waste that occurs all to often in emergency rooms across the country.

Hopefully our public officials will come together in the interests of the “little guy” as the president put it and address the issues that really shape the issue of health care with serious thought and a minimum of games and accusation throwing tantrums.