By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Time to finish what Obamacare started

There’s a sense of desperation — even a dangerous threat of revolution — in the air swirling around Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, both Trump and Hillary Clinton continue to be flashpoints of hatred among so many people that election of either candidate promises more years of gridlocked politics.

We all are suffering from the fallout, and one symptom is a variation of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Last week a good friend chided me for quoting a Breitbart writer about Obamacare. He said I might as well have plugged directly into the Trump campaign.

Perhaps I should have described the conservative politics of Breitbart, an ultra-conservative news network founded by the late Andrew Breitbart in 2007. It is a website loved by those who accuse the mainstream media of liberal bias, and detested by others who think it trades in misleading and extremist commentary.

However, at the time, I really didn’t care about Breitbart. As I told my friend, I would quote Donald Trump himself if I thought him right on something I cared about. But that brings me back to the boy and the wolf, so well-known from “Aesop’s Fables.”

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

The lad told so many lies about an imaginary wolf that no one believed him when the real carnivore appeared, and with no help from the villagers, he was eaten. As the moral goes, “This shows how liars are rewarded; even if they tell the truth, no one believes them.”

The fable, however, stops short. I would suggest after eating the boy, that wolf continued into town and ate the villagers, too. The additional moral is, don’t disregard something true just because you don’t like the source.

The unfortunate reality of 2016 presidential politics, however, is a nation filled with people willing to disregard, with prejudice, anything said by their disfavored candidate. That reaction bodes ill for any possibility of compromise needed to solve major national problems.

One of those problems is health care, and here’s what I think:

The United States should join the global assembly of developed nations by moving to universal health care. It’s not enough simply to end the tortured strategies of mandating private insurance, fining people and businesses, and ignoring excessive health care costs. Obamacare should be replaced — carefully, over time — with an American version of universal health care.

Baby boomers — all to be on Medicare by 2029 — should be leading that charge.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com of 503-687-1223.

Comments

GerryH

Thank you, Jeb, for once again giving voice to putting intelligent policy ahead of partisan politics. There is no good argument for providing health care using the current fragmented, inherently inefficient model. It is very much time to replace it.

Don Dix

GerryH wrote -- "It is very much time to replace it" (health care act).

Yes Gerry, along with all the buffoons who fostered the fiasco. It was never about being 'affordable' for the majority of society. Remember Obama saying he wanted the same coverage for every American that was afforded congress? That was just a big fat public lie! And H will continue the BS! Not my idea of 'representation' at all!

GrizzlyWildcat

It's not a matter of IF the US will move to single-payor, but when. The current system is simply unsustainable. There are those who profit greatly however by keeping our current system on life-support for as long as they can, and they've largely led the charge against transitioning the US to the system the rest of the developed world uses - and uses with cheaper costs and better overall outcomes.
I'm a private business owner, and currently pay over $11,000 / month for health insurance for my 25 employees, and that's in ADDITION to the 20% of the policy they pay AND in addition to all the co-pays and deductibles they're charged. Even with an increase in taxes to cover a national health plan, I (and my employees) would still save a huge amount of money over the hundreds of thousands we pay to for-profit insurers each year.
And for all the concern about terrorism and crime claiming American lives, those numbers pale in comparison to the American lives lost every year due to lack of or inadequate health insurance. But somehow Americans dying in that way seem to not spark the same outrage or demands for change.

kona

GrizzlyWildcat, you seem to be suggesting that healthcare employees take a massive decrease in compensation. The high costs are not totally a function of the insurance industry as you seem to suggest. The health care in "the rest of the developed world" does not come close to matching what is available in the U.S. Are you suggesting limited options for healthcare to save costs? Are you suggesting a government controlled healthcare system like the VA?

GrizzlyWildcat

kona: Medicare's administrative costs are 2% of expenditures, private insurance costs are 17%. The United States ranks #43 in life expectancy in the developed world, and has the 44th lowest rate of infant mortality. So, yeah, we certainly DON'T come close to matching what is in other first world countries.
11% of the US population has VERY limited options for health care because they lack any insurance, so tell THEM that our system is better than any other country where they would have access to care.
The government (single-payor) already cares for most adults over 65, all the Medicaid population, and everyone under the VA system. Does it have its problems, yes, but so does every private insurer as well.
Insurance is a huge cost driver, but so is inefficiency, grossly overpriced medicines, and absorption of costs from uninsured or under-insured patients.
And the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country is medical costs, by INSURED patients.
It's a completely broken system, and it is unsustainable.

kona

GrizzlyWildcat, you said, "The United States ranks #43 in life expectancy in the developed world, and has the 44th lowest rate of infant mortality. So, yeah, we certainly DON'T come close to matching what is in other first world countries". That has more to do with the American lifestyle of drugs, alcohol,tobacco, violence and obesity than the medical industry and insurance. I have considerable contact with patients in countries outside of the U.S. who have very limited options (compared to the U.S.) in cancer and heart disease to believe that their health systems are superior to that in the U.S. I am surprised that you disregard the many complaints about Medicare, Medicaid and VA coverage. People die waiting for help.

I do agree that "It's a broken system, and it is unsustainable". Not sure if what you propose is the answer.

Jeb Bladine

Good on ya, GrizzlyWildcat, for providing health insurance with fewer employees than what triggers mandatory employer plans. But you have to be asking yourself the same question I ask myself -- who put us (businesses) in charge of providing complex, expensive, problematic health care plans?

There are a great many reasons U.S. health care costs are too high, but we're not going to fix any of them so long as we have a crazy-quilt system and gridlocked partisan politics. One by one, under a coherent system, they could be solved.

kona

Jeb, very good question, "But you have to be asking yourself the same question I ask myself -- who put us (businesses) in charge of providing complex, expensive, problematic health care plans"?

A few years back businesses used the perk of health insurance and paid vacations to garner and keep good employees. That good thought mushroomed into "let's just pass this total situation onto business as they should be in charge of all employee's healthcare". It is now taken for granted that businesses rather than employees are responsible for the employee's health. What am I missing when I think healthcare responsibility should be primarily with the employee?

Don Dix

kona and Jeb -- Our so-called representatives always (publically)speak of the evils of Big Pharma and health insurance companies. But behind closed doors, big donations are flowing into campaign coffers from the same evil doers. As we all have become aware, money talks and BS walks. The situation is the same (in a different arena) as the 'pay to play' controversy that has been levied against the former Sec. of State.

Nothing will change until the big spenders have been excluded from influencing the decisions -- and our reps in D.C. place the citizens plight above the numerous chances to get rich simply by inclusion in 'the club'.

You can call it whatever, but it is naked bribery -- and it has benefitted many, save the general population.

If the same old status quo is allowed to continue nothing will change, except your health care costs. My solution is to vote out the incumbents, stop allowing bribes for favorable legislation, and make government accountable to the people. Otherwise, $600 for an Epi-pen today will seem like a good deal tomorrow.

kona

Don Dix, I agree with your thoughts. The problem is the "status quo" is now a well oiled machine while everything else is fragmented/diluted to the point of irrelevance.

Mike

Thank you Jeb. A single pay system puts a basic level for everyone. There seems to be an opinion a single pay system would be the only medical insurance level available. Supplemental insurance will be available as it is now. The current system that can penalize the youthful and healthy for not getting insurance makes no sense. One bad day and a healthy person can become a sick or injured person needing care, with single pay they are covered at a basic level. The youth and healthy who have to pay higher taxes (not the stigma of a penalty) will eventually need that medical care. It should be there for them. If they can afford more insurance, there will be a happy agent and company ready to sell them a policy. And business are relieved of the necessity of funding the insurance and health care systems.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS