The Weekly Riot: Healthcare Sanity
Let me pose a scenario to all of you. Please imagine this scenario in relation to your normal lives. Suppose you and your significant other had just mortgaged all that you owned on an investment that you thought had the potential to secure your family for the foreseeable future. The debt was exorbitant; larger than anyone you knew or heard of. The scary part was that for the last few months your family’s income had been falling; things were getting really tight. To top it all off prices at the store kept constantly going up. Now also imagine that the family car began to show a bit of wear and tear; new breaks here, a belt there, and new water pump to boot. You and your significant others livelihood depended on that transportation so you decided that something had to be done about the auto problem.
Your neighbor who really didn’t like you but was nice when you came to visit and had significant amount of money invested in your business had said that he would front you the money to take care of the auto problem but insisted on ever increasing payments of interest because of your exorbitant debt . You, however, grew up in a mechanic shop, had a full garage full of tools, and an entire backyard full of spare parts (I am from Texas) that were in great working condition. Do you A. take out an exorbitant loan from your repugnant neighbor, at interest, and buy a new Lamborghini. Or B. Do you take out an exorbitant loan from your repugnant neighbor, at interest, and buy a new Star Trek style teleport machine that you saw on a late night infomercial. Or C. do you roll up you’re the sleeves, pull the family beater in the garage, and work with the sense God gave you. If you’re the federal government you have a fourth option that you are picking these days; D. is either A or B but definitely not C.
After years of economic stimulus “investment” we find our nation mired in increasing debt, soaring jobless numbers, and flagging consumer confidence. However, the problem that has D.C. so worried these days is the healthcare system which, like any old family station wagon, has a few miles on it. The thought of my family members being one of the 30 million or so Americans without healthcare coverage literally makes me shudder. However, call me crazy or just plain old fashion, but I am still an adherent to the old “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater adage.” Even though I would love to have a new European style Lamborghini, or even a nifty Star Trek Teleporter (which is a metaphor for the ever popular D.C. window dressing bill where we spend tons but get nothing) but for god sakes my mother taught me at a very early age that you don’t always get what you want. But, as the great geriatric Strolling Bone sage, Mick Jagger, so eloquently put it, if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
What we need is common sense, practical, healthcare reform and we need it now. I am no genius, my friends will attest to that, but it is not hard to hear every doctor in America screaming out loud in unison. Doctors across the country say that the number one cause of rising healthcare cost is the skyrocketing cost of medical malpractice insurance. Put simply, U.S doctors just tack the cost of insuring themselves against malpractice law suits onto the end of your medical bill. Whether it is former presidential candidate John Edwards in court like Miss Cleo channeling a dead baby’s thoughts from the netherworld in an erroneous obstetrics claim, or a valid medical malpractice incident, litigation is killing the healthcare industry. One solution to this problem that has been tried with repeated success across the nation is binding medical arbitration agreements. These patient, doctor agreements allow any malpractice claims to bypass an expensive litigation process and go into a third party arbitration which clearly and fairly calculates damages, both actual and punitive, suffered in the instance.
By reforming the system so that doctors and patients can easily bypass massive litigation costs and assess damages in a fraction of the time doctors could literally save billions in insurance fees and Americans would save hundreds of millions in healthcare costs. Why hasn’t this happened yet? Because, who gets paid for all of those countless hours of malpractice litigation? You guessed it, the lawyers! According to the American Bar Association in 2006, over 50% of U.S. Senators are Lawyers, 52% of all Presidents were Lawyers, and nearly 40% of all U.S. Congressmen are lawyers. There isn’t enough altruism in Vatican City to get a handful of lawyers to legislate themselves out of a pay day, much less an entire Congress full. This is a voter issue that the lawyers in Congress are never going to bring themselves to decide. We will have to decide it for them.
Another issue that Congress is spinning their wheels on that could have deep implications for the cost of your healthcare is immigration. This one is a no brainer. The law of the land states that emergency rooms cannot turn away patients for any reason, and rightfully so. We don’t want our nation’s ER’s divvying out judgment on who they will and will not treat; after all they are medical caregivers not lawyers. However, the primary means for an illegal immigrant to get treated for an illness or injury in the United States is through an emergency room. The problem is that after treatment is rendered the illegal is not significantly compelled to pay their medical bills. Unlike you and I the illegal immigrant’s future credit on an automobile or home loan is not tied to a social security number. They are not documented in the system, cannot be pursued for payment in any meaningful way, and therefore the hospital is often forced to absorb the costs. Well sort of. The hospitals write off the cost of the illegal’s treatment, however, when the next fiscal year comes around hospital administrators adjust their payment scales accordingly so to make up for the deficit in the next year; from bills paid by you and I.
When people like me start talking about immigration reform the same tired old arguments come out. “This nation was built on the backs of oppressed immigrants (I.E. Italians, Irish, Etc)” “Look at the Statue of Liberty’s inscription” or of course the extreme innuendo of pro-immigration reformers being Nazi’s and supporting Gestapo style roundups. The same tired, shock value platitudes make great sound bytes and lazy journalists love them. However, they do not make good policy. For one nearly all of those oppressed immigrants, probably including some of my own family, came through Ellis Island where they were documented and processed into the system so that the institutions of the time could accommodate them. In other words, they came here legally. Furthermore, it would not take a Gestapo style federal roundup of immigration offenders to seriously begin enforcement of already established laws to fix the problem. A simple federal law empowering local law enforcement agencies to enforce current immigration standards would do the trick.
By not enforcing established standards we have allowed outsiders to usurp, and overwhelm the established system that generations of Americans have worked so hard to build. It is not a matter of being anti-immigrant; most opponents of immigration reform aren’t xenophobes. They just want the system to be equal, and for everyone to have to follow the same rules that they have to. While our Congress is debating a massive government run healthcare system in the middle of an economic crisis, in our nation already exists a thriving universal healthcare system for those who are in this country illegally. It is financed annually by the hidden tax on all of us who have been spending our hard earned money on ever increasing healthcare costs. As Reagan said in his famous speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention, liberals often deride conservatives as having “Simple solutions to complex problems.” Well much like Reagan, I say there is a “Simple simple solution, not an easy one but a simple one. You and I must have the courage to say to our enemies there is a price we will not pay; there is a point beyond which they must not advance.” Uncle Sam’s pockets are not bottomless nor his credit card limitless.
I say that it is time we weaned our politicians off of Lamborghini’s and phony teleport machines; time we demanded getting what we need rather than what polls say the voters want. In Plato’s Republic venerated Plato admonished democracy as short lived; stating that it could only stand until the voters realized they could vote their pocketbooks full. Our founder’s realized this democratic flaw which is why they established not a democracy but a constitutional republic with three equal branches. The problem today is not that the three branches have stopped working. Quite the contrary, two of the three are working overtime to give you and me every ridiculous thing we could ever imagine in order to keep their jobs; the third is busy thanking the other two for their job by rendering decisions the other two like. The problem with today’s republic is not with the government….it is with the voters. In the words of John Wayne “Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.” Real change begins and ends with you.
P.H. Rolen is the Author of "Liberty for All: The Patriot's Primer" and the Chairman of Liberty for All USA.com. He is a Guest Editor for NowPublic.com and writes for the American Daily Review, and Maj. General Paul Vallely's Stand Up America Project. P.H. Rolen has been featured in the Canada Free Press, The Heartland Institute's Infotech and Telecom Newsletter, The World Net Daily Commentary Page, and numerous small circulation print outlets. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Joint Taskforce Katrina and currently resides with his wife and children in Montana where he is involved in statewide campaign politics.