Friday, August 6, 2010

Public Opinion Seems Strongly Against Healthcare Reform

This week Missouri voters drew national attention by solidly passing a measure that would ban one major aspect of healthcare reform; the requirement that everyone purchase some type of insurance. The measure is largely symbolic since federal law will take precedence over state law in this case, but the Missouri voters were well aware of this when they voted. In fact it was publicized by some that voting for this measure may jeopardize some federal funding down the road because of the embarrassment it would cause the Obama administration. That didn't seem to matter to Missouri voters who passed the measure with a more than two to one margin.

The Missouri Hospital Association weighed in on the matter with a mailer to all Missouri residents strongly opposing the measure. They made a very good point. If there is no mandatory health insurance coverage then who pays for the services consumed by the uninsured who certainly can't afford to self pay. Voters don't want it covered through taxes. So I suppose it is to fall on the shoulders of the providers to eat these costs. The MHA argues correctly that this could threaten the very existence of some struggling community hospitals.

The Tea Party and others also make a compelling argument that we want less government intrusion into our personal decisions. This certainly may fall into that category. But I argue that being able to provide needed healthcare services to someone regardless of their ability to pay supersedes that personal decision. Will that person who decides not to purchase health insurance also decline any medical treatment that might possibly be needed? I don't think so, nor should they.

Right now healthcare services are available when really needed for anyone. By putting our heads in the sand and saying we will not pay for some will not make those costs go away. Yes, healthcare costs are too high and yes, there are ways to improve the efficiency of service delivery and payment. But just ignoring the cost of the uninsured will not address these issues.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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