Congress should pass nonpartisan healthcare reform
14 September 2020
A very few people may live their whole lives without ever visiting a doctor, but the rest of us will have a need for health care at some point. Access to health care is not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nor is it guaranteed in the Constitution, like the right to peaceably assemble. However, there are some commitments that we make as a country, such as providing a free public education for K-12 students, not because they are enshrined in the Constitution, but because they are good for the country as a whole. It is becoming clear that as a nation we want health insurance to be available to everyone at a reasonable cost. The question is how to do it.
If health care were an expense like food (generally affordable and with predictable costs), then it would be reasonable for individuals and families to cover the costs on their own. Unfortunately, health care needs are anything but predictable, and the costs can be astronomical in some cases, so individuals and families cannot be reasonably asked to cover health care costs on their own. Many lucky families might be fine, but others might be financially devastated by illness or accident. Few people want to take that risk. This is why health insurance exists.
I propose the following outline for health care reform:
- Health care should be available to everyone via private insurance, regulated by the government, rather than by government insurance, such as “Medicare for all.”
- Young adults up to age 26 should be eligible for coverage on their parents’ policies.
- Pre-existing conditions should be covered. No one would be denied coverage.
- In order for pre-existing conditions to be covered, coverage must be universal, meaning that everyone is required to have health insurance. Those who do not want to purchase coverage would have the option to opt out, but opting out would be permanent. Once a person opted out, they would not be able to opt in later. If at a later date they wanted to get health insurance coverage, they would be free to do so on the open market, if they could find an insurance company that would accept them at a price they could afford, but they would not participate in the government-mandated universal health insurance system, so there would be no assurance at all that they would be able to find health insurance coverage at an affordable price.
Health care policy is complicated and subject to a lot of negotiation. One thing that is not negotiable is that Congress should pass nonpartisan health care legislation. In the current environment, if one major party forces something through (as with the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., the ACA or “Obamacare”), then when the other major party retakes power, it will attempt to dismantle whatever the first party put in place, as is happening right now — Republicans and the Trump administration are doing their best to repeal the ACA and invalidate portions in the courts, in spite of the fact that they have not proposed anything specific to replace it.
Nonpartisan legislation that is the result of negotiation and compromise can be the basis for stable, predictable conditions that are essential for the economy to prosper. It can be updated from time to time as conditions demand. Partisan legislation is doomed to undergo massive changes or outright repeal as the government changes hands, causing real harm to many of the citizens that depend on it, and causing uncertainty for business, harming the economy.
Who better to work on nonpartisan health care legislation in Congress than someone who is not a member of either major party? I ask you to vote to send me to Congress to sponsor reasonable, nonpartisan health care legislation.