To the Editor:
When Hillary Clinton proposed a government-run, single-payer system to solve our health care crisis, Republicans responded by proposing a private insurance system based on an individual mandate. Then-Gov. Mitt Romney then adopted this insurance proposal for Massachusetts with great success. It was the conservative approach based on the free market and designed to save taxpayers from out-of-control healthcare costs. That plan was the basis for the Affordable Care Act, now known as Obamacare.
Conservatives hate big government almost as much as they dislike big government deficits. Their plan attacked both problems. Private insurance companies ran the system and made a profit. Out-of-control healthcare costs were curbed.
Money is the key. The United States pays almost twice as much for health care than any other industrialized country, and yet we have much poorer health outcomes and fewer people covered. Our current system was broken, and would have soon bankrupted the country.
The Affordable Care Act is not something progressive Democrats wanted. What they wanted was a government-run single-payer plan. What we got was a private, for-profit insurance plan that everybody has to join because of the individual mandate. As the very conservative Heritage Foundation said, the key is personal responsibility. Everybody has to pull their own weight, no free rides.
What you don’t hear through the media noise surrounding the now-repaired website is the fact that the ACA is already helping to reduce health care cost inflation to a 50-year low. That fact alone will reduce our long-term deficit more than short-term cuts in spending.
Congress spent over a year crafting this law. It is complex because it is full of compromises to satisfy all the stakeholders. It is clear Republicans are doing everything possible to make it fail even though it was their idea.
Whether this law is good for you may depend on who is your governor. Democratic-led states created their own websites, expanded Medicaid and in general promoted competition between insurance carriers. In those states there has been much success.
In Republican states like North Carolina, the insurance rates have been higher because of the state’s failure to encourage competition. The state’s failure to expand Medicaid to more than 500,000 uninsured has caused a financial crisis for many hospitals. One in four uninsured Macon County residents will continue to use the emergency room for basic care, at great cost to all of us.
As Mitt Romney said of the individual mandate in 2006, the plan must include “... the personal responsibility principal, that is essential to bring health care cost down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they deserve and need.”