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$116 Billion…

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That dollar number amounts to the unpaid health care costs in 2008. That $116 Billion cost is shifted to every person who does have insurance and amounts to an extra $1,000 per year in additional premium costs to every family.

Do you like paying $1,0000 more for your insurance because someone else chose to be irresponsible or did not have the financial resources to buy overly high priced insurance on the private, individual insurance market?

Nobody really likes mandates, let alone insurance. I didn’t like it when my state mandated I have car insurance. But being a responsible adult means doing certain things, not just for today but for potential eventualities down the road, that we may not like but prevent us from causing financial harm to others.

Yet, the new Ayn Rand libertarian, conservative mantra appears to be heading in the opposite direction of concern only for oneself and ignoring whatever impact our self interest has on the rest of society.

For example, when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli tried to explain to Justice Scalia that the health care market is unique because “getting health care service … [is] a result of the social norms to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.” Scalia’s response is a curt: “Well, don’t obligate yourself to that.”

In other words overturn the mandate that requires hospitals to treat every patient, regardless of their financial resources, and let uninsured, financially handicapped people – and children – die in the streets. Is that really the kind of nation we want?

When I hear Republicans talk about person responsibility as a necessary virtue and then hear them say let’s go back to the old health care system that permit complete and utter irresponsibility as well as a system that neglects up to 30 million of its citizens, I don’t just get confused or frustrated, I get angry. Republicans can’t have it both ways.

They can’t say they care about the American people and are fiscally responsible when the nation shifts $116 billion onto responsibly insured families and say they believe in individual responsibility while championing the right to be irresponsible. But this is, as opposed to older Judeo-Christian beliefs, the measure of the new conservative movement.

Nevertheless, the argument most notable, hangs on opposing theories of what powers Congress has.

Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law. He’s also author of the excellent book, ‘America’s Constitution: A Biography’, told Ezra Klein regarding the Constitution and the powers available to Congress.

In McCulloch vs. Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in paragraph 28:

“A constitution [is] intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. To have prescribed the means by which government should, in all future time, execute its powers, would have been to change, entirely, the character of the instrument, and give it the properties of a legal code. It would have been an unwise attempt to provide, by immutable rules, for exigencies which, if foreseen at all, must have been seen dimly, and which can be best provided for as they occur. [It is wrong] to deprive the legislature of the capacity to avail itself of experience, to exercise its reason, and to accommodate its legislation to circumstances.”

Health Care Spending

With regards to controlling costs, the ACA goes a long way towards that goal. 47 provisions in ACA tackle the problem of delivery system cost controls, through a variety of incentives that encourage communities, states, and health care organizations and providers to change how they have traditionally managed health care and its attendant costs. It’s currently estimated that we could be saving maybe $700 billion annually on what we spend on health care.

Kaiser, Gunderson Lutheran, Geisinger Health Systems, the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain as some key leaders in delivery system reforms/innovation. These organizations have had remarkable success, and as Sen. Whitehouse points out, the goal of those 47 provisions is to incentivize pilot programs that actually do work at providing quality health care to communities, regardless of which type of health insurance they have, and reduce the cost of delivery which can then be deployed nationally. Whitehouse, added, the savings would be a huge economic benefit to not only the taxpayer, but also to our competitive industries, if they’re able to spend less on health care. And these savings in the Affordable Care Act aren’t about taking something away, but rather about delivering more efficient care. It’s a true win-win, and positively the road we ought to be on.
A few facts about the costs of the American health care system:
Total expenditure on health per capita: $7,960
Expenditure as % of GDP: 17.4% (the most)
Annual growth of total health expenditure: +2.2% (14th least)
Life expectancy: 78.2 years (27th highest)

Source: 24/7 Wall St.


Written by Valerie Curl

March 29, 2012 at 6:39 PM

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