Fri, Jun

Elections Are Over: Can We Finally Fix Healthcare?


ALPERN ON MEDS-While there are countless messages and spins from the recent and stunning electoral results of Tuesday night, the exit polls showed that the Economy was the top concern of those who voted (and, arguably, those who did NOT show up to vote--including and especially former Obama loyalists).  And the Economy was, is and always will be entwined with the issue of Healthcare. 

It's not hard to conclude that there are quite a few extremists on Health Care in this nation--some are zealots and opportunists, but most are just good-hearted and sincere people of conviction.   

There are those who believe that the free market and the health plans will fix everything (reality has shown this not to be the case), and others who believe that a single payer/government system is the only way to go (and the VA system might splash some cold water/reality onto this fantasy). 

Both America and Europe are too darned expensive with respect to Healthcare, but both have features to be emulated and shunned.  American health plans are NOT competing enough to keep health plans low and to provide options to employers and the self-employed, while European/Canadian governmental models have ALSO left many Health Care consumers wanting for something better (and they're willing to pay more for it). 

So let's get into the UGLY realities, so that perhaps a truly balanced Capitol Hill/White House can start fixing Health Care: 

1) President Barack Obama was absolutely correct in that Health Care costs were destroying both the ability of businesses to thrive AND the ability of families to thrive, yet he and a Democratic Congress ruined a golden chance to fix the problem as much as a previously Republican Congress ruined multiple golden chances to fix the problem by doing nothing.   

2) President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid rammed through a huge bill, of which they probably understood very little--because it was written by the same sleazy health plans that are running an "oligopoly", and are NOT competing.  In other words, everything you hate about health plans are now amplified, not improved, because the pleas of Republicans and others to create MORE competition were ignored. 

3) As the horrible realities and costs of the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, often called Obamacare, which is unfortunate because it's doubtful the President really understood such a gigantic bill...and who possibly could?) become increasingly understood by the American people (including employers), the understanding that this was more political than cost/economically-based must no longer be ignored.  Or dismissed.  Or belittled. 

4) The happiest Americans are those who have career jobs with benefits, not merely part-time contractor jobs without benefits--and the ACA is, by virtually all economists' admissions, the single greatest obstacle to encouraging career job formation.  We need an economy that's thriving, and unfettered, to create those jobs, regardless of the screaming from governmental officials who have gotten far too used to controlling business practices. 

5) Deal with this, folks--as much as Americans resent Obama for an ACA/Obamacare that prevented quality job formation, they ALSO resent the example that his challenger Romney appeared to represent by sending his money offshore and away from taxation.   

6) The many companies trying to send their money abroad to avoid American taxation, or the Walmarts of the world who "cheap out" on paying for their workers' health care, are therefore just as odious as any hamhanded government takeover of American health care.. 

7) The corollary of this, of course, is that the reduction of taxation that MUST occur for American companies to be competitive with foreign companies will only succeed in helping Main Street AND Wall Street...which requires that the reduction of corporation taxation be directed to workers' benefits.  Tying corporate tax reduction to insuring workers with better health care would presumably allow workers to spend more and help the economy. 

8) It is evident that while the GOP overtook both houses of Congress, there is NO veto-proof majority to stick it to President Obama--and with a President who's likely to use Executive Orders on everything from the ACA to immigration (all to the expense of growing middle-class wages, by the way).   

Both the GOP and the President have the ability to be either toxic or compromising, and the GOP must BOTH take on the ACA and do so in a fashion that is both pleasing to the taxpayers and satisfying to the voters who just elected them. 

9) And where shall the President go on this?  On everything from immigration reform to foreign policy, both Mr. Obama and his lieutenants in Congress (Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi) have shut out not only the GOP but just about everyone else in the U.S. when it came to being open-minded and transparent.   

The paradigm that "the GOP just won't talk, and they're racist" must be replaced with "perhaps the Democratic leadership would do well to take the advice they keep throwing at the GOP".  The GOP Senate takeover was as much an assault on the obstructionist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as it was on Obama (who is now increasingly being recognized by Americans as obstructionist and nonconciliatory). 


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Most important is that the title of the "Affordable Care Act" is itself a joke--very few have benefited from this bill, and many more have suffered.  Most of those who could not afford insurance still cannot afford it, and the overwhelming majority of those uninsured remain so.   

The ability to see a doctor, get medications, and get quality coverage is more difficult and expensive than ever--this must end.  Republicans who sat on their hands for decades, and Democrats who overplayed their hand when they briefly held both the Legislative and Executive branches of government, must "say sorry" to the American people.   

There ARE ways to make Health Care better and more affordable, but it will likely be (as with all complicated issues) piecemeal and less than ideal...because the Perfect always is the Enemy of the Good (even in Europe and Canada, where many fantasize that things are sooooooo great and wonderful). 

We now have a golden opportunity to truly start fixing Health Care--but only after the President and the GOP leadership starting fixing themselves--starting with a process that is rational, not political, in nature.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also does regular commentary on the MarkIsler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) 






Vol 12 Issue 90

Pub: Nov 7, 2014

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