Most of us understand a few basics about health care insurance. First, designing it is complex, not something a committee can put together in a few days. Two, it is desperately needed, as having 40 million people without health insurance in the richest country in the world is just plain wrong. In almost eight years of vociferously objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently called “Obamacare,” Republicans have been unable to devise an acceptable replacement for it.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER

A while ago, Bloomberg News reported that President Trump was “considering signing an executive order on health insurance that would help give consumers more options…and he would cross party lines to meet with Democrats to get a health care plan that’s even better.” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the Senate Health Care Committee, said he was “exploring bipartisan ways to shore up the market (insurance) and limit premium increases for next year.”

Recently, Republicans and Democrats have actually worked together on a rational solution. That’s amazing and refreshing, sort of like old times when Congress actually got things done. Senators Alexander and Patty Murray (D-Wash) have, over the past few months, crafted the Alexander-Murray health care bill. Many of their colleagues believe this is a rational health care insurance plan. The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this plan could save about $4 billion over a decade.

Our family, like most families, has been impacted by health care insurance. The inability to pay for medical care likely greatly shortened my grandmothers’ lives. However, fine medical care due to good medical insurance from my father’s employer, helped double my mothers life expectancy. Excellent medical care for my father’s heart attack at age 66 saved his life and permitted him to continue working until age 90. When our children graduated from college and took their first jobs, we worried whether their jobs would offer health insurance. Now, ACA takes care of that problem.

Our president, senators and representatives must understand that our nation’s health care is not a political football; real lives are affected. No plan will please everyone or provide everything. Giving the states block grants will significantly hurt some states, including ours.

We cannot afford to provide all medical services to every person in this country without some payment by most individuals. The medically uninsured will still need medical care and others end up paying for it. Many people ask, “Why don’t we have Medicare for all?” The answer is that senior citizens do get a good deal but there is no free lunch.

Those of us on Social Security see how much is deducted from our monthly payments, and know that not only do we pay those charges, based on current income stream, but we also pay deductibles and co-pays. Medicare offers a potential model for health care plans, as do those of other countries, which generally provide some form of universal health care insurance.

Recently, CNN reported that 48 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the Senate were ready to endorse the Alexander-Murray plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he would bring this bipartisan measure to the Senate floor only if he is sure that President Trump will sign it. Being 100 percent sure that President Trump will do anything is not a sure thing.

Health care insurance should be designed to protect everyone’s health while also stabilizing the insurance markets. With true across-the-aisle co-operation, Washington might actually have a pulse and do what is needed to keep America healthy.

 

[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist who lives with her husband Maury in Huntington, West Virginia. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net. Ms Mufson is a weekly columnist for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. The above article first appeared in the Herald-Dispatch editorial page on November 2, 2017.