Simplest solution to America’s health-care problems

On Friday, Americans saw and heard something rare. The health-care bill – the American Health Care Act, also named Ryancare or Trumpcare – was pulled before a vote was taken. The whip count showed that no Democrats and most members of the Freedom Caucus were not going to vote for it. Rather than having a spectacular failure, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill.

The “repeal and replace” health-care bill is symbolic of the divide in the United States now.

Some people think there should be limited government and that the government should not have the ability to direct what insurance companies cover. Health, they feel, like many issues in our current American life, should not be dictated by the government.

The other side, mainly Democrats, believes the United States should provide universal coverage, as Europe, Canada and even countries such as Saudi Arabia do. This argument is not going to go away soon.

On Friday, Speaker Ryan and President Trump talked about how the current Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will fail and then the bill the Republicans put forth will be re-examined as a possibly.

The Democrats say the numbers given by the Republicans are wrong, Obamacare will not fail, it is necessary and it provides health care to millions of Americans.

There are many arguments, pro and con, regarding the current health-care plan. The one that makes the Republicans apoplectic is the increased taxes to pay for people who do not have or can’t afford health care. Some Republicans complain that the paperwork that needs to be filled out to get premium help is difficult and cumbersome.

Many Republicans object to the fact that health care cannot be purchased state to state. In other words, companies can’t offer to sell polices across state lines. This could be fixed by votes and a stroke of the pen. Fix the current health care plan, Obamacare, so companies can offer plans to all and across state lines.

The big issue is what some have called the essential care package in various plans. This includes mental health and addiction coverage as well as emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, some rehabilitation services, vision care and some wellness services. Even with Obamacare, it is clear that drug companies lobbied to be included, so President Trump might be correct in trying to lower the costs of prescription drugs.

Democrats in rural areas have said that, under the GOP plan, which was pulled by Speaker Ryan, some Americans would be paying much more for health care, as the tax credits and premium supplement offered under Obamacare would be slashed.

No matter how you look at the two bills, the Republican leadership has not in seven years been able to come up with a bill. The GOP finally did, and it was nixed by the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.

The simple answer is single payer, like us old folks have with Medicare. Some call it “Medicare for all.” It works. Although it is popular to talk about long waiting lists in Canada, that nation has a single-payer health care insurance system, and it works.

In it analysis, the Commonwealth Fund wrote: “Although the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients’ perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American health care is severely lacking. … The nation’s substantial investment in health care is not yielding returns in terms of public satisfaction or health outcomes.”

The issue is access to care and making good decisions on how to spend government money. First, the American people need to know how much is spent on lobbying by various health-care organizations. (The American Medical Association is first, and pharmaceuticals is number two, followed by the American Hospital Association.) Second, there should be a nationwide contest for people in the health-care field to come up with solutions. Creative people who work in health care could come up with some great solutions.

The problem with our current health care is that we have politicians who got to Washington, D.C., by appealing to constituents with lots of verbiage. It is time to have a national call to come up with solutions.

I have met with many health-care workers, and they have great ideas. Let’s harness those great ideas and get politics out of the health-care debate.

Media wishing to interview Ellen Ratner, please contact

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by Ellen Ratner || Image Credit


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