Health Care Reform

By Rep. Ron Maurer

The hysteria whipped up by liberal “universalist” politicos is utterly amazing. It underlies the reality that they cannot, they do not, and they will not debate healthcare reform on the merits of the arguments. A first-order assumption in their argument is that universal healthcare is the desired goal. This premise belies the true foundation that the more fundamental question is, what type of system do we want? Followed by, how much are we willing to spend? Their greatest fear is what most people in the United States know intuitively (but cannot explain). Once articulated, and then understood the death of universal healthcare will be declared never to be revisited again.
A common argument for liberals beginning the discussion about healthcare reform is that “the polls” say Americans want universal healthcare. My response is, every time Americans have been asked whether they want to adopt a specific form of universal healthcare legislation the answer has always been a resounding NO! Exceptions to this have been through stratifying the population whether by age (Medicare) or perceived needs based (Medicaid). A recent example is S-CHIP which is using a divide and conquer approach.
My reaction to the current prevailing discourse is that we are clearly on the road to “socialized medicine” If you don’t believe this, ask business owners about the cost of providing health insurance to their employees. The answer, if they still provide health insurance, is they don’t understand it; costs are to high and something needs to be done now! I agree something needs to be done. But, that something is not giving the reins of a largely government run system now a bigger share.
My view of a conservative approach to healthcare reform is based on the notion that we must have fundamental change in healthcare finance and delivery. My guiding principles for Oregon healthcare reform include:
1. Challenge all assumptions about health and healthcare.
2. People decide. Healthcare providers guide.
3. More is not always better. Access to more healthcare does not always lead to better health outcomes.
4. Payment defines delivery. If change to the payment/reimbursement system is made then change to the delivery model will follow.
5. It has taken decades to create the system we have today. It will take years to deconstruct that system and build a new more rational, sustainable, effective healthcare model.
6. Parochial interests are not sacred.
7. Demand change by agitating the federal bureaucracy and Congressional leaders.
These guiding principles will be the basis for the new Oregon Health Future Initiative which will not attempt to overthrow the current system but will challenge all stakeholders and special interest groups to give up something for the viability of our future health needs.
The money pit for healthcare is not limitless and the only way we are going to solve this problem is to contain costs. There is only one way to control costs and that is the politically charged and often demonized word “NO”.
So, who says NO? You or the Government.
On the surface this choice is simple but the reality is that this is a very complex problem that requires rational debate and fundamental change. Don’t believe rhetoric that the problem can only be fixed by more government involvement. Ask one question when evaluating any change termed “healthcare reform”. Does this change move us toward universal healthcare or does it move us toward a more market based, consumer driven system?
Americans are not desirous of becoming agents of the state. Americans want choices and independence.

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