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We don’t need sugar-coated pill for health care reform

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POSTED August 18, 2009 12:00 p.m.

Every government action has an unintended reaction.


Case in point is the Cash for Clunkers program.


It’s been good for the new auto industry but it has hurt used car lots with a 20 percent hit in sales volume on top of sales that were off already by 30 percent. Economists are also predicting that given the retraction in new car sales for the past two years plus the Cash for Clunkers effort that the used car market for the low-income will eventually see prices climb due to a tightening of supplies. Cars that would normally have been resold to someone further down the economic chain have now been crushed.


If the objective was reducing gas mileage instead of economic stimulus, you can’t argue with how the program was structured. Even so, how much energy does it take to produce new cars and to crush and recycle old cars?


The goal was to do one thing and one thing only – prop up the anemic new car industry. Nothing wrong there but be honest about what you’ re doing and don’t refer to it as an economic stimulus package to benefit the nation if along the way you crush honest working people who don’t – or can’t – take advantage of the program.


We need to keep this in mind as Congress looks for the magic pill to reform health care. There can – and will – be unintended consequences.

Regardless of what un-elected policy wonks in Congress come up with behind closed doors there can never be anything that monkeys with over a 10th of the American economy without impacting us all in a negative way. One obvious impact is higher taxes whether it is directly from our paychecks or through hidden taxes that businesses slapped with the tab will be forced to pick up and pass on.


As far as those upset about protestors disrupting town hall meetings, they’ve got a point. However, it is hard to have empathy for those trying to push the sugar-coated pill considering they’re operating under the same delusions as those who have allowed their heath to deteriorate by packing on the pounds over the course of years and then go to see their doctor for a magic pill to get rid of the excess weight and get them into shape virtually overnight with little or no sacrifice.


We did not get into the state of dysfunction overnight with some aspects of our health care which contributes significantly to costs. It has been a long time coming. Yet there has been no real public crafting of the solution – the parts that count have been cobbled together behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. by people influenced by the usual favor seekers along the Potomac
There is no way to make all of us happy with health care reform. That’s a given.


It is the one-dimensional approach that is a tad frustrating.


Why not have government-run clinics be put in place staffed as a national requirement for two years by doctors – regardless of their specialty  - and one year by nurses after they get their certification and before they can go to work for whoever they close?


They could get paid the median wages to where the clinic they are assigned is located plus have the government kick in payments for their loans to get an education to the tune of perhaps $60,000 for doctors and $15,000 for nurses.


It’s just an idea but it is more in line to what people believe the debate should be about – access to health care instead of what it really is which is access to health care insurance.


Government clinic and hospitals can be managed as Congress sees fit. It would have the added bonus of getting politicians who have the best health care you could ask exposed to real issues driving health care costs including liability, indifferent patients who don’t take care of their own health, drug abuse, labor contracts, and a whole list of things that really aren’t being addressed effectively in the plan now floating around that puts everything in the context of paying for servcie through insurance instead of addressing the real root causes.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com


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