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Everyone has a health care agenda

The Morgan Messenger of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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When it comes to the debate about health care, everybody has an agenda, including me.

In my case, I have a health care plan provided by my former employer that covers my wife and me until we qualify for Medicare. This came about because both of us worked for the same company for 30 years.

I like my plan and I don't want it to change.

So, how does that relate to the current debate about health care reform?

I don't really know, but I suspect that no matter what bill is passed this year by Congress, it will ultimately affect my health insurance.

If a government plan emerges from the current chaos to become law, setting up a federally run program to compete with private health insurance companies, how is my health insurance company going to react?

Will my insurance company have to change or cut services to compete with the federal plan?

My guess is yes.

Worse yet, will my former employer drop private health care coverage altogether in favor of the federal plan?

After all, my former employer greatly subsidizes its health insurance plan to keep costs to employees and retired employees low. Outside of salaries, health care costs are the company's greatest expense.

If a government plan can compete with my plan, is it going to pay for it?

I don't buy the argument that by eliminating inefficiencies in the current system, we will be able to pay for a government plan.

At a town hall meeting that President Obama held in New Hampshire, a woman who works in the health care system brought up an interesting point. She asked where are all the additional health care professionals --r nurses, doctors, technicians, etc. -- going to come from when there are shortages in those fields now.

Will we have to wait months for procedures and surgeries as some people do in the United Kingdom and Canada?

I realize that in the current system we are already paying for all those emergency room visits and hospital care for uninsured persons. And I also understand that there is not enough competition out there for health insurance companies to have much incentive to lower costs.

And, no one will argue that there isn't a lot of fraud in the current system.

So do we need health care reform?

Of course we do.

Do we need to clean up fraud and inefficiencies in the current system?

Of course we do.

Do we need to help the 46 million Americans who do not have health care?

Of course we do.

But can we have health care reform without adding another trillion dollars to the deficit? Can we have health care reform that doesn't jeopardize current health care plans that are already working for people? Can a federal plan be paid for without cutting other benefits such as Social Security and Medicare?

And, can we formulate a health care reform bill that will please everyone?

I hope so. But, call me a cynic, I doubt it.



Copyright 2009 The Morgan Messenger, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

© 2009 The Morgan Messenger Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from DAS.

Original Publication Date: September 30, 2009



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