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Finding North Without a Compass

A retired Army officer and retired Fortune 500 executive, Warren may be best known for making waves while serving on the Mequon Common Council and Ozaukee County Board. He's no longer an elected official, but he has plenty to say about local, state and national issues.



I must admit that the Obamacare health crisis that has been assaulting our senses since the Obama Administration took office in January 2009, caught me by surprise.  Did it sneak up unseen, since Hillarycare bombed in 1993?  Well no, it was debated during the 2008 Presidential campaign but never did the discussion reach crisis proportions until President Obama went on the stump using every outlet from personal appearances throughout the country to five television network appearances in one day. 
So what is the crisis?  Well it varies from the moral obligation to insure that everyone is covered by health insurance-- to rein in health costs so large and small businesses can retain their competitiveness in the global economy.  Now you would think that a crisis of this magnitude would find both American businesses and the American public clamoring for changes.  That doesn’t seem to be the case, with a recent poll finding that some 84% of Americans are satisfied with their health care – though rising costs are troubling.  Individual Americans are smart enough to recognize that any Federal health plan will control rising health costs by squeezing Medicare and Medicaid fees; rationing physician treatments; and restricting procedures available, based on age and patient condition.  The horror stories from the Canadian and British health systems under similar conditions, have given pause to most.
Another aspect of the so-called crisis, is the alleged 46 million souls without health insurance.  Lost somewhere in the translation is that lack of health insurance does not equate to lack of health care.  Federal law requires that hospital emergency rooms are required to offer medical care to anyone and everyone regardless of ability to pay  – and this includes illegal aliens.  Most of us have heard the story of a Florida hospital that spent more than $1 million treating an indigent illegal alien, finally paying for his flight back to his native country.  If we examine the alleged 46 million without health insurance, a different picture emerges. About 10 million of that number are either illegal aliens or non-citizen residents.  Some 25 million earn adequate income to purchase insurance but chose not to.  Only the 11 remaining million lack health insurance because they either can’t afford it or do not qualify for a government program.  As is true, any of those 11 million who need medical treatment can and do receive it at no cost from clinics and hospitals throughout the country. It’s the law! 
Why then is so much misinformation on the loose?  Letters to the Editor in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reveal our own educated citizenries believe that illegal aliens are currently denied medical treatment at hospitals and clinics.   Further, some claim that the Bush Administration never did anything to improve the Medicare System -- conveniently forgetting that Medicare Part D - Prescription Coverage was added during their watch.
Where the Obama Administration lost most credibility is stating that completely redoing health care will be on a budget neutral basis.  The nearly $1 trillion cost of the proposed legislation over the ten years will be offset by savings in medical costs.  Does any sane person believe the Federal Government has ever run anything to an initial budget, no less extract savings to equal that budget expenditure?  In reality the proposed Obamacare health plan will add enormous inflationary debt to our already massive debt structure that is bound to affect our American standard of living.
Is there a better solution – sure, an incremental approach that improves the situation of the 11 million, without affecting the remaining of us 305 million?  Rather than an omnibus legislative bill, how about a series of separate bills addressing individual areas, that can be offered, debated, passed and implemented?  For one, how about permitting insurance companies to sell medical insurance policies across state lines?  Does it make any sense for a resident of one state to be paying twice as much for the same policy as a resident of the adjoining state?  For another, let’s make sure that persons with pre-existing conditions can acquire health insurance at an appropriate cost.  Lastly, let’s address medical tort reform.  Savings would be substantial in reducing specious medical suits and outlandish settlements without jeopardizing legitimate medical malpractice claims – all of which will reduce insurance premium costs for both individuals and physicians.  Several other areas are available for the same independent actions. 
Does that make a lot more sense than the all-encompassing approach now being put forward?  You bet – Americans will understand each increment and the increments can be implements in order of those that offer the greatest benefits.  And finally this approach can be carried out in a bipartisan manner with everybody a winner – especially all Americans!  

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