Health care itself is complicated and so is our health care system, yet it remains the envy of the world. People travel from all over the globe to receive care from America’s doctors and hospitals. In New England, our biotech industry is world famous, creating groundbreaking therapies for some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases known to humankind.
There has been a lot of talk about implementing a Medicare for All plan or a single-payer health care system. If you ask anyone in Washington for details on how these reform ideas would work, their answers lack any specifics, which is far from reassuring. This is a big problem.
The left is advocating another major overhaul of our healthcare system that would totally disrupt the lives of most American adults and their families who receive their healthcare through private insurers with benefits provided by their employers. Medicare for All requires dismantling the entire private insurance system.
Flipping over the table in favor of Medicare for All or single-payer will cost taxpayers resources we cannot afford, and just as important, it distracts us from fixing the real problems that exist in our system, even as we eliminate the elements that are working well.
As we witnessed with Obamacare, the introduction of a new system will create chaos and uncertainty for consumers, providers, and insurers. It will disrupt the entire healthcare delivery system and leave tens of thousands of Americans worrying whether they will be able to afford the care they need from the providers they trust.
A move as disruptive as single-payer at this stage would eliminate private insurance, a benefit enjoyed by more than 180 million Americans. It would create uncertainty and chaos, hurting the very people it purports to help. A single-payer system will take the choice away from all Americans, leaving the government in charge.
For the business owners and the employees whose efforts sustain each other, this approach is illogical and ill-advised. We need to take a reasonable approach that builds on our current system’s strengths, shores up its weaknesses and delivers more for all Americans.
Here in Maine, we have seen what happens when you implement market-based solutions into the health care marketplace. In 2011, Maine conservatives in Augusta passed what came to be known as PL 90. Mainers saw their premiums decrease across the board after the bill was enacted. By getting the government out of the way Mainers had the same, if not better, coverage at a lower cost.
But then Obamacare was enacted at the federal level and superseded our health care reform efforts in Maine. Progressives in Washington would do well to take a cue from what we learned here.
Washington needs to stop their tendency to throw out the old system and start over – these efforts do not produce a better system, but they do endanger those aspects of our system that work well. Let’s keep what works, using it as a starting point, and then define a path forward that leads to better, more affordable coverage for everyone.
We need to keep our focus on bringing costs down wherever possible without sacrificing access to, or the quality of, care. We can make coverage more affordable for more of our neighbors while continuing to encourage innovation in both care and delivery.
Government-run systems stifle innovation. And any changes in our system must ensure that health care decisions rest where they belong: between patients and providers.