Health reform shouldn't mean end of compassionate care

* This publication was produced by Citizens for Choice in Health Care and is published here with their permission.
Minneapolis Star Tribune Commentary
May 28, 1994
While President Clinton's call to compassion for the uninsured and underinsured is laudable, the true measure of compassion in his or any other government regulated health care plan needs to be carefully weighed.Health care in the United States has often been noted for its humanitarian efforts, which have included the donation of services and supplies, treatment of the poor and care given to our neighbors around the world whose needs cannot be met in their own countries
Any state or federal health care system would diminish if not eliminate these services. Since all health care personnel, equipment and facilities would be placed under government regulation, physicians would become paid servants of the government. While they could freely offer their skills outside the country on medical teams, any private services provided to unqualified, desperate or impatient citizens within the United States could be construed as "bribery in connection with health care" (Clinton Health Security Act, Sec. 5434). Physicians may also be required to reimburse the regional alliance for any services given to noncitizens or for services given to citizens beyond the guidelines set forth by the National Health Board, if the NHB agreed to allow these services.
Elizabeth McCaughey, one of the few who have read the entire 1,342-page Clinton plan, titled her article for the New Republic "No Exit." Rather than assuring us of compassion, specific page numbers of the plan are included throughout the article to document Clinton's true agenda: price controls through rationing based on age, illness and alliance-determined "quality of life." The plan also mandates new federal health care laws to discourage the development of black market health services for dissatisfied consumers.
True compassionate health care will find itself in need of resuscitation without an available life support unit. Then in the wake of rationing it will slip off the emergency cart ignored and trampled under the feet of the clamoring crowds. Later we will wonder how we let the 2,000-year-old Hippocratic oath of patient as primary be rendered impractical against the concept of a global budget. But it will be too late. There is another solution: the Consumer Choice Security Act. This plan achieves universal coverage and preserves personal freedom while maintaining compassion and choice. Disconnecting health insurance from employment, it gives citizens the tax breaks businesses now receive for providing health insurance. The only mandate is universal minimal coverage, which can be found in a low-cost catastrophic health insurance policy.
Premiums will be paid for with pretax dollars, by the individual or by the employer, but the individual will own the policy. By buying portable catastrophic health insurance with a $2,000-#3,000 deductible for each employee and then placing the complete deductible in an employee-owned Individual Medical Account (IMA), the company can save $700 per employee. Employees can also choose to take health benefits in pretax wages and on their own purchase health insurance and start an IMA. The IMA is portable and can grow with interest or individual pretax deposits until medical expenses occur. Money can then be pulled from the account and no insurance paperwork is required.
This plan also includes tax credits for all health care expenses and premiums not paid through an IMA, choice of all available health insurance plans, federal subsidies for those unable to afford the minimum premium or deductible, tort reform, and allowance of additional health insurance for Medicare patients to assist with uncovered expenses. It encourages privatization of Medicaid to greatly reduce costs, bureaucracy and personal stigma. It does not include new taxes, federal health care laws, a Health Security card, a national electronic data bank, increased bureaucracy or limitation of services.
Before espousing the regulations and dictates of ClintonCare or MinnesotaCare, investigate the options carefully and contact Congress with your informed decision. It is not too late to preserve the individual freedom and choice that have for generations upheld our high standard of compassion in health care.
Twila Brase, St. Paul, Director, Citizens for Choice in Health Care

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935