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Politics & Power

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The Smoke And Mirrors Of Healthcare Reform

In Washington the debate rages on about the “public option” and public funding for abortions while at the heart of healthcare reform nothing in either the House or Senate versions of the bill really addresses the causes of the high cost of healthcare. Regardless of what version eventually becomes law, people on fixed incomes will still be faced with prescription drug costs that they can’t afford and healthcare providers and insurance companies will still not have limits on profits. The main problem with Washington’s version of healthcare reform is that it only addresses a small part of the problem with healthcare in America. Until they address the driving forces behind the cost of healthcare they will not enact real reforms.

While the American people have been distracted by debates over whether or not the government will compete with private companies, politicians have made back room deals with drug companies to refrain from enacting any substantive legislation to control the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. While the people are being led into a debate about abortion there is nothing being done to lower the obscene profits being made by healthcare providers and insurers and funneled into the bank accounts of their executives. We have all been duped into debating the wrong things about healthcare reform. We are all consumed with who pays and what will be covered instead of focusing on how to actually put concrete controls on the cost of healthcare.

Neither side of the political aisle has a morally superior position on healthcare reform because neither side is proposing laws that will actually bring down the cost of care for the majority of Americans. To address the real problem with healthcare, the cost, we need to pass laws that prohibit the abuse of the patient by an industry that is more focused on profits than health. The focus of healthcare needs to be cures as opposed to treatments and there needs to be real competition in the market as opposed to the illusion of competition that the current plans would create.

The first and most important step in lowering the cost of healthcare has to be to address the cost of medicine. Pharmaceutical corporations have long held that their huge profit margins are necessary to drive research. To address that issue Congress should establish a National Research Center for the development of new drugs where the best minds from around the world are brought together to find solutions to the medical problems facing Americans. The focus of the research needs to be on “one and done” drugs that cure diseases as opposed to creating a self-sustaining market by only treating the symptoms of disease. Currently the profit motives of companies makes curing disease far less attractive than finding ways to extend illness by treating the symptoms. To remove profit from the research equation we need public research with results shared across the entire drug manufacturing industry and laws to require results of private research be shared across the industry. Drug patents need to be outlawed entirely and pharmaceutical company mergers should be halted to preserve competition. With a multitude of companies having access to the research and the ability to sell the same drugs normal marketplace competition will keep companies from price gouging. As long as exclusive drug patents are allowed to exist and the number of drug manufacturers continues to shrink due to mergers and acquisitions the price of prescription drugs will be too high and will hurt the American consumer.

The next thing that needs to be addressed is the profits of healthcare providers and insurers. Congress can manage that by redefining profits and taxing actual profits more heavily. Profits need to be redefined as the income of a company over and above expenses with executive compensation amounts over $500,000 per individual per year not being defined as a business expense under the tax code. Excessive executive compensation and bonuses need to be defined as post-profit expenditures. By defining some executive compensation as post-profit expenditures it removes the ability to include the exorbitant salaries in their expenses which masks the amount of profit they are actually making on the backs of their customers. They could no longer say that their payroll costs were keeping them from making a profit because the majority of their executive compensation would not be included in payroll expenses. The arguments for retention and hiring the best talent are baseless fiction. In a country with over ten percent unemployment there is a wealth of talent that does not require millions of dollars to do a good job. Those that think they are worth millions can be replaced with those who only need to make a few hundred thousand and the businesses would actually give better returns to their investors. AIG’s CEO made piles of money and it didn’t stop him from running the company into the ground with bad decision making. Don’t believe the hype. They don’t need that much money to do a good job. The President of the United States is responsible for the health and safety of 300,000,000 people and he doesn’t make over a million a year. The argument that some CEO needs to make that much to stay with the company is bogus. If he leaves, oh well. Hire another one for less.

After they finish with the pharmaceutical industry reforms and corporate executive salary issues, if they really want to fix healthcare, they need to get real competition going in the marketplace. Order the breakup of some of the giant healthcare providers like they did to AT&T long ago. If AIG is too big to fail then they are too big to exist. If Blue Cross is choking out competition then Blue Cross needs a corporate makeover to whittle them down a bit. If Pfizer is knocking off all the other drug companies then Pfizer has gotten too big and needs to be split up. Funny enough, splitting these companies would also create jobs as they would be forced to hire new staff to deal with the decentralized workload. All in all it would be good for the country and the industry.

We can keep arguing about the “public option” and publicly funded abortions or we can actually focus on the real problems with healthcare. We need to get the cost of healthcare under control and to do that Congress needs to pass laws that put a halt to the profiteering and abuses of the system that have allowed the cost of healthcare to multiply exponentially over the last few decades. Until we address the core issues in the system facilitating the abuses we will not have real reform. Who pays for healthcare and what services are available are important. But none of it is so important that we should ignore the core issue of what has made healthcare too expensive to begin with.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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