Saturday, September 19, 2009

Illegal Immigration, Obama’s HealthCare and You: Truth and Consequences.

President Obama’s healthcare plan continues to make the news, and while most Americans would agree that our nation’s healthcare infrastructure is in shambles, few Americas want to see those here illegally become eligible for any portion of taxpayer benefits. In fact, a number of leading Democrats have quietly begun backing off the so-called “Public Option”. I have gleaned some interesting articles that I thought you might find interesting. I should point out that, in all fairness, I haven’t seen any proposals by the GOP to provide comprehensive health coverage to legal US residents. As such, I’m forced again to add my voice to the chorus which asks of the Republican Party—“I know what you’re against, but what are you for?”

The first article is from The Health Care Blog, an independent oriented healthcare industry newsletter. The article, which links to several other related topics, is entitled “A Detailed Analysis of Barack Obama's Health Care Reform Plan”.

The second article, from the San Francisco Chronicle, discusses what many fear, a shortage of physicians. Some believe that as many as 45% of doctors would quit if Obama’s healthcare plan should pass."

The next article, from CNN exposes some of the basic “freedoms” you loose under Obama’s plan. Personally, I’m big on personal choice. fortune/

Illegal Immigrants under Obama’s Plan

Of course, by now everyone has heard (ad nauseam) about South Carolina Congressman Jim Wilson’s not so subtle opinion of Obama’s healthcare plan (“You lie”) and illegal immigrants. Well, despite Obama’s assertions to the contrary, it looks like old Jim knew what he was talking about. It looks like he (or more likely, one of his aides) did their homework. The Congressional Research Service reports that some illegals will, indeed, quality for taxpayer based healthcare. Check out this article from ABC news, and the link to the CNR’s report, “The Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200”.

It appears that Obama was “mistaken” after all.

What To Do?

The long and short of this really quite simple. Our health care system in this country is crumbling. It needs a dramatic overhaul. An increasing number of businesses and individuals can’t afford the premiums and are being forced to drop coverage all together. But their health problems and that of their children don’t go away. The result is often deciding between food, rent, or getting treatment. Not a pleasant choice. While you and I may wait or simple decide not to go to the doctor, our children is another matter. So what do you when you can’t afford it? Well, you do what more and more people are doing---you go to the emergency room for what are often routine matters, and more often than not, the public get stuck with the bill through higher premiums and higher costs of service imposed by the doctors and hospitals (I suppose that, in some respect, we already have public healthcare, at least from a billing perspective).

Many Americans cross the border to get their prescriptions filled. Now, the American pharmaceutical industry will tell us that if we do, we’ll wind up with inferior or even harmful medicine. However, they fail to explain that this is often the identical medicine sold to Americans. The only difference is that the governments of Canada and Mexico have negotiated cheaper rates based on the American Medicare model.

The problem with creating a national healthcare plan is multifold. First, forget about that all that Hippocratic Oath stuff. Healthcare is big business. It employees hundreds of thousands, from brain surgeons to billing clerks, and makes billions of dollars a year. It’s tied to universities, agribusiness, petrochemicals, and the federal government The CEOs of America’s hospitals and pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to walk away from that kind of money. Secondly, Americans want choice. We demand it. It’s part of our national psyche. A monolithic national healthcare plan would by its very nature require limited choices in order to be manageable. Lastly, but less importantly, is the costs. We’re talking billions upon billions of dollars stretching decades into the future. Can we---should we---impose that kind of debt on our great (yes great) grand children? And let’s not forget, we still need to deal with a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure (roads, sewers/drainage, bridges, dams, etc) as well coping with increasingly severe natural disasters and subsequent costs as the result of climate change.

And then there is the issue of coverage for illegal aliens. Why should Americans pay for the coverage of people who are breaking the law by being in this country illegally and who don’t, by and large, contribute to the system? Only those who contribute fully and legally should benefit. Americans are perhaps the most kind and giving people on the planet. We’ve done more for the world than any nation before us. Heck, we even clothe, feed, educate, and provide medical care to some of the very people who hate our guts. We have been the world’s policeman since 1945. But I think the time has come when we have to admit that we can no longer provide for the world needs. America must address its own problems, and that includes revamping our healthcare system in a way that we don’t enslave our descendents to an untenable tax burden.

The answer, I think, is not in socialized medicine, but increased competition (including cross-border prescription purchases), costs caps, an increase in “fast track” research and development with a shorter proprietary time in order to encourage generics, as well as encouraging resource pooling for small businesses. We also need to focus on improved wellness. It’s often cheaper to work on prevention rather than dealing with after-the-fact cures.

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