Thanks, Sen. Moran: Kansan bucks party line to derail passage of healthcare bill

opinions

July 19, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Of the thousands of tweets Sen. Jerry Moran received upon announcing he would vote no against the Senate’s healthcare bill, our favorite was “To quote my math teacher: ‘I don’t know how you did it, but you used the wrong formula and got the correct answer.’”
Moran made the right decision to say he is against the BCRA, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, although his logic to do so is not a little disconcerting.
In his statement Moran said: “… if we leave the federal government in control of everyday healthcare decisions, it is more likely that our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase.”
Medicare is our country’s best example of how a public insurance system works — and to our knowledge there’s been no public outcry to abolish it.
Lift the age restriction of 65 and people wouldn’t have to decide whether to pay their rent or buy their prescriptions, get that needed surgery or put food on the table. For many Americans these are either/or decisions. Healthcare expenses remain the No. 1 reason Americans file for bankruptcy.
Despite our wealth, Americans pay far more for medical care than those in other rich Western nations but have little to show for it.
Why? Because healthcare costs — determined by the private market — are too expensive for middle- and low-income Americans. Healthcare is the poster child for what makes us a country of haves and  have-nots.
Of the world’s 32 industrialized democracies, we are the only one that does not provide for the healthcare of all its citizens.
 
SO WHAT happened to the 2010 Affordable Care Act? Well, had it been fully implemented — as well as  been allowed to be tweaked — it would have covered almost everyone at reduced costs. Instead, partisan politics prevented putting the American people first and the plan was weakened.
States that refused to expand Medicaid allowed many citizens to fall through the cracks. In Kansas, for example, an estimated 170,000 eligible residents have been denied health insurance while hospitals and nursing homes have had to accept lower reimbursements.
Even so, an estimated 20 million more Americans now have health insurance because of Obamacare, bringing the rate of the uninsured down from 15 percent to 9 percent.
 
MAKING healthcare affordable and universal is not mutually exclusive, but requires a stiff backbone to stand up to the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. During the 2009 debate to construct the ACA, the health insurance industry spent more than $100 million in lobbying efforts to keep private insurers, as opposed to the government, as the key cog in American health care.
Currently, President Donald Trump is urging legislators to repeal the ACA with no replacement plan. Leaving the healthcare industry in limbo is not the answer.
Unfortunately, on Tuesday afternoon Sen. Moran jumped aboard that bandwagon.
Instead, vigorous and open debate is needed on the myriad ways the existing healthcare plan can be improved, including ideas such as:
• Lowering prescription drug costs. Just as with Medicare, the government should step in and negotiate lower prices with drug companies.
• Lowering insurance premiums, again, by putting the federal government at the bargaining table.
• Allowing Medicare, or some similar federal plan, as an option for not only individuals of any age, but also to companies.
• Raising taxes on the wealthy.
• Expanding benefits to low-income individuals and families so that health care more than exists, but is affordable.
Sen. Moran is saying we must “start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protection for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans.”
In other words, doing what they should have been doing all along.

— Susan Lynn

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