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Some possible health care reform options
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Back in March, I wrote a letter to your paper asking my fellow citizens to write in and make suggestions to what they thought “affordable health care” should be.  No one wrote in. This was before any plan had been submitted, or before the lunatic fringe started screaming about Bolsheviks at the gates. The last sentence I wrote stated that if we don’t speak up, we will be told what it is. We’re almost there.

There is no denying that reform is needed; “you pick the number” of people who are without insurance. People are losing their insurance in droves as they lose their jobs. People are left with the only option of bankruptcy when their insurance provider denies paying for their claim based on a technicality. These aren’t hypotheticals, these are realities. Maybe it’s just that Americans no longer participate in our participatory government anymore. We have become a country of observers waiting for someone to suggest something so we can criticize it. I think it’s our sports mentality. On any Sunday you can see millions sitting in their living rooms claiming some ownership to a sports team, breaking down every detail, and knowing exactly what is right or wrong with theirs or the other team, but never participating themselves.

Not any one of us can solve the issues by ourselves, but if we all spoke up, and gave ideas to present to our Congressmen and Senators, we may be much farther along than we are now. We need reform, not a take over. We need different ways of doing what we are doing. We need “critical thinking.”

Here are some suggestions that I have, or heard of. Allow the insurance companies to sell their services interstate, and not just intrastate. Give them one regulation through the Federal Government, instead of 50 different archaic regulations from the states. This will allow the companies to streamline their business model, and to aggregate their costs over a broader pool of customers. Instead of a state like Montana where there are maybe 1 million people, and one insurance provider, the citizens of that state could buy insurance from a national provider who is providing lower costs to a larger audience, and reduce what they pay for insurance.

Co-Ops are to insurance companies what Credit Unions are to Banks. They would be not-for-profit organizations that would provide insurance to members who join them, and utilize any surpluses as a means to improve the service its members receive. This can be an organization that could be set up by any local municipality for the good of the people in any town.  Instead of the “bonus bucks” that Manteca receives from building contractors through the expansion of the city to put in “bulbs” on Main Street, the money could go into the Medical Co-Op. The city leaders could set up the co-op with the many doctors, dentists, and hospitals in town. They could even expand the geographical range of service by aligning themselves with co-ops in other cities much as Credit Unions do.

The public option is the one that so many want, but it scares so many as well. Surveys have shown that somewhere around 70% of the population have no idea what the public option is. We have heard from the extreme what they believe it to be, but those who stand to lose in the end sponsor many on the extreme. I believe that it needs to be basic in its scope. We need to decide who needs help the most, and focus on them. The next generations should be allowed to expand it, or change it. It could be something as simple as using the food stamp model. The poor, and unemployed could sign up for “Medical Stamps” that would be given to a doctor when their child has an ear infection, or a senior who isn’t on Medicare yet needs emergency dental work. I use these two examples because they are the most common, the most painful, and the easiest to cure.

These are just suggestions, not the answer. If we were all giving suggestions along the way, many of these ideas could be added to, or better ones brought out.  People can’t be afraid to make suggestions out of fear that some “Clown” on the extreme will degrade it. There are no stupid suggestions, just stupid people who don’t make suggestions.  

The greatest generation overcame the Great Depression, fought and won a world war, created the greatest economy that the world has ever seen, and, they put a man on the moon. What has ours done that doesn’t involve entertaining ourselves? We have an opportunity; lets not blow this one too.
Scott Sadlowski
Sept. 6, 2009