Most of us have been following at least part of the “lively” debate on health reform. Now that Congress is moving into the final stretch that will lead to outcomes and solutions it is time for anyone who has been sitting on the sidelines to step up and act. The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are working on bills that include important provisions that offer comprehensive health reform. As currently envisioned, the focus is on building a system where people have access to affordable and quality health care that emphasizes prevention and wellness.
I am of the belief that our current system is flawed and badly needs improvement. As one example, our current system provides medical coverage to many prison inmates as well as many welfare recipients but leaves out the single parent working full-time to support a family. That is clearly flawed. We can expand our umbrella of health care coverage to include a person working full-time so that they can take their sick child to the doctor without the fear of financial ruin. Another flaw in our current system allows insurance companies to price gouge the American public, putting more and more money into their pockets and less and less money into our hospitals and healthcare system where the dollars would do the most good. Insurance companies have a role to play in our system, but that role is not to decide how much profit they will be making each year by simply pumping up our premiums.
Aside from the generalities of what we should do, here are four very specific recommendations that should be included in our reform package:
1. Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
2. Allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
3. Stop insurance companies from charging you higher premiums because of your age.
4. Allow individuals to keep their current health insurance coverage if they are happy with it.
In general, we can improve our health care system by increasing access to it; striving to improve the quality of health care received; working to make the system financially sustainable; ensuring that the system is responsive to patients and communities; and focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
If health care reform is to survive we have to help it survive the anti-reform propaganda of the special interests and their politicians. Taxpayers and consumers should prepare to celebrate when we succeed at reforming health care over the objections of entrenched special interests with their their morally bankrupt politicians.
Now is the time to e-mail, write, and call your members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to advocate that they follow through on health care reform.