Remember Reform: Health Care 101

Calling all of you pro-business, Chamber of Commerce-loving folks out there…are you listening? What action would you take when a cost-center in your business is exploding, and by exploding I mean increasing by 8%-15% annually over a three decade period with no corresponding increase in revenues? My years in business (and my MBA) tell me that dealing with that cost should be priority number one in the firm. Strangely enough, the voters in 2008 agreed, and elected a Democratic slate and President with a wide mandate to fix the cash-hemorrhaging cost center that was (and remains) the medical marketplace.

Medical expenses are the reason that union pensions, both in the private and public sector, are struggling. Medical expenses were a destructive force in the demise of General Motors, coming in a respectable second (some $15 billion when combined with basic pension expenses) to the monumental bonds owed (some $28 billion, yes friends, if the evil unions caused GM’s downfall, then crappy management was twice as responsible). Medical expenses also represent the predominant obstacle to balanced budgets at both the state and federal levels. So what are we receiving for all of this expense? The answer is shocking; our outcomes in the major measurable categories are no better than middle of the road compared to other industrialized nations.

The United States spends more per person than any other industrialized nation on health care, and gets middle of the road results for the expense. Even if you have no interest in social justice. Even if you are blinded to the debilitating costs incurred by public and private health care facilities via uncollected bills due to lack of insurance. (The cited material regarding uncollected bills is a quarterly report for a Florida based hospital firm reporting over 25% of net revenue (not profit) written off due to lack of insurance.) Even if you completely disregard the cost to industry of extended sick time and lost productivity. Even if you ignore the enormous levels of bankruptcies due to medical costs.  Even if you don’t care that the greatest country in the world is getting its medical head kicked in by the French, why wouldn’t you approach the problem from a real business perspective?

I covered health care reform this summer in a four part series found here, here, here, and here. The struggle to pass a bill, the heart of which was described by the conservative Heritage Foundation in the 1990’s, is documented in those pages. But the substance of the legislation was never openly debated in Congress, the conservative mainstream media, or the public. We heard about socialism and government takeover. We heard about the “evil” of individual mandates and Death Panels. We also spent months listening to a nightmare scenario whereby businesses small and large would be laid low by the monstrosity that was, alternatively, either “Pelosi-Care” or “Obama-Care”.

We heard all of these “facts” while several major businesses were publicly going down the tubes because of our current health care system. We heard all of this while tens of thousands of small businesses went bust under the burden of their owner’s health care expenses, and thousands more never started because entrepreneurs couldn’t take the risk of lost-coverage and quit their day jobs. This whole sorry episode has been an exercise in fact-avoidance and the vanity of strutting peacocks like the entire Republican Congressional Caucus and Democratic insurance shills like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, and Blanche Lincoln.

Leading into next weak, the message that fence-sitters need to understand is that real progress was made by the passage of Affordable Care Act. Children with preexisting conditions can purchase insurance, adults will have the privilege beginning next year. Rescission has been banned, so insurers must now honor their plans unless fraud can be proved. The steady increase in the amount of premiums held back as profits, instead of being paid as benefits, has been halted. These benefits must be drilled into the minds of those who plan to vote, and those who don’t see the point of voting. Even leaving health care aside, the student loan reform that was included in the final passage has pumped billions out of private banks and into pockets of students who will spend the cash improving our commercial infrastructure. The real message of health care reform can still be told…must still be told, in these last days before November 2. Failure, as Gene Krantz told us, is not an option.

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Animated Balls: Election 2012

Episode 1: It's Hard to Choose Just One

Episode 2: Occupy Wall Street

Episode 3: 999! The Cain Train to Prosperity

Episode 4: Small Government

Episode 5: Newt is Forgiven

Episode 6: A Candidate with Big Balls

Episode 7: Why We Must Elect Rick!

Episode 8: Don't Make Me Use the "S" Word!

Episode 9: Santorum & Obamaville

Episode 10: Settle for Mitt!

Episode 12: Austerity and Obama's Debt!

Episode 13: From My Cold, Dead Hands!

Episode 14: Ryan is a Bold Choice for VP!

Episode 15: Mitt Romney's Taxes

Episode 16: Mitt & Me; 2 Peas in a Pod!

Episode 17: Mitt and the 47%

Episode 18: The PA Voter ID Law

Episode 19: The Boss is Running!

Episode 20: Benghazi Has Legs

Episode 21: Grover, the NRA, and the GOP

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