HEALTH CARE REFORM; We'll Take That One

Article excerpt

As usual, our readers have more common sense than Congress.

Of all the letters that we receive, one thread that runs through many of them is: We'll take the health care plan that members of Congress have.

No wonder.

Consider this quote from the federal government's Web site:

"Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. ... There are no waiting periods or pre-existing condition limitations under the program, even if you change plans."

The Web site also says: "Use this site to compare the costs, benefits and features of different plans."

OK, we'll take that, readers say.

And who pays for most of this? That's right, all of us, the taxpayers.

Federal employees have gone from servants to a protected class.

So with that model in mind, and now that the country has been engaged in the health care debate, let's start over and fashion a plan that Americans really want, not the 1,900-page monstrosity the Democrats want to force on us.

SUPPORT IS FADING

In fact, public support of the proposed health plan is dropping. According to the Gallup Poll, support is taking a nosedive.

- More Americans (50 percent to 47 percent) say it's not the government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. This is the first negative response since Gallup began tracking the question. Just three years ago, two-thirds of Americans said it was the government's role.

- By 61 percent to 32 percent, Americans strongly favor keeping the current health care system over a new government-run system.

Gallup couldn't figure out the reason for the negative turn, but it's probably because Americans are starting to see the trade-offs involved in health care coverage.

That's why the president and the Congress should consider their health care bill a 1,900-page first draft and start over.

They should start by using the federal health care plan as the model for a national health care plan.

REAL ISSUES

Much of the debate over national health care is a smokescreen that, at worst, is hiding the true issues.

- There is no free market of health care. In many cases, consumers don't have either the ability or the information to shop for the best quality care at the best price.

- In many health care plans, there are not enough incentives for consumers to save costs.

- Providers have disincentives to provide lower-cost care. Instead, under the fee-for-service model, the incentive is to pile on services that are reimbursed. We need to scrap this system.

- Even if all profits were eliminated from health care, and all lawsuits were dropped, major financial issues would remain. High administrative costs, a result of the system's complexity, are the main culprit of higher costs.

- Tort reform is no panacea. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it amounts to 1. …