WILLIAMS: Philosophical gap on health care

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Certain reforms will be difficult to agree on because there is no philosophical common ground between the liberal Democrats and the conservative Republicans.

The reforms that will be especially contentious and difficult to resolve include: a public single payer health care option; raising taxes on individuals and businesses; limiting profits on insurance and pharmaceutical companies; rationing health care by government bureaucrats; subsidizing health care for illegal aliens; providing public funding for abortions; dictating insurance terms including equal individual premium costs for health care regardless of risk classifications of the insured such as gender, age, pre-existing conditions and healthy lifestyle (excepting smoking) of the insured; and requiring universal coverage by businesses.

However, there are some reforms that both Republicans and Democrats may be able to agree upon. These areas are primarily marginal fixes to the current health care system and do not entail a major restructuring.

Reforms that may offer common ground include: subsidizing low-income American citizens and legal residents; requiring all Americans to have health care insurance; reform of medical malpractice tort system; permitting interstate competition among health insurers; portability of insurance; and promoting healthy lifestyles. Obviously, the devil will be in the details of crafting these reforms.

If the real issue of reform was to reduce the overall cost of medical care in America, the health care reform debate would center on medical malpractice tort law, promoting healthy lifestyles and dealing with the high end-of-life costs. Medical malpractice insurance and defensive medicine account for approximately 18 percent of health care costs. Obesity accounts for approximately 9 percent. Alcoholism and smoking account for another large percentage. Approximately 40 percent of medical costs are incurred in the last six months of life.

If the real issue was how to insure those American residents without insurance, the discussion would center on subsidies for the poor and the incentives required for other uninsured Americans to get insurance. However, the cost of medical care in America and covering the uninsured are not the real issue.

The real issue is whether the individual or the government should control medical care.

“The Armstrong Williams Show” is broadcast weeknights on XM Satellite’s Power 169 channel from 9 to 10 p.m.

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