Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has been drawing some heat for his support of health care reform and his commitment to vote in favor of the bill even if it costs him his job when election time rolls around. Critics have mentioned that it’s his responsibility to represent the will of the people of Colorado, and that if they don’t support health care reform, he shouldn’t either. Of course most political issues tend to be split along party lines these days, and health care is no exception. This means that no matter which way the vote goes, there are going to be a huge number of people who are displeased with the result.
This scathing opinion piece in the Denver Post today details some of the criticism against Bennet’s stance, and presents the author’s alternate solutions which he claims could be “accomplished in a fifty page bill” (I doubt any legislation that takes on health insurance portability, tax relief, tort reform, guaranteed issue health insurance, and the sale of insurance across state lines would take only fifty pages, but that’s just my opinion).
One of the points addressed was the issue of guaranteed insurability (which has already been addressed in both the House and Senate reform bills). The article proposes that
“This is the only area where there is a potential legitimate role for the federal government. Anyone who is “uninsurable” because of a pre-existing condition should be eligible for Medicare.”
Ah, if only it were that easy. Currently, Medicare is available for people who are disabled or over the age of 65. A good number of those people have serious medical conditions, and it’s widely acknowledged that Medicare will face funding shortages as more baby boomers become eligible for coverage. I’m curious how the author believes the federal government would pay for care via Medicare for all of the people who are uninsurable in the current medically underwritten individual health insurance market? Obviously these would be people who are sick and needing to utilize their health insurance coverage. They would most likely be costing far more in claims than they would be paying in premiums.
No insurance company – public or private – can withstand a significant influx of sick insureds without balancing it out by adding additional healthy insureds. That’s why the mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance is a necessary part of the reform bills that would require health insurance companies to accept all applicants, regardless of health history. Saying that we should just open up Medicare to everyone who can’t qualify for private health insurance is a bit of a stretch. Especially when it’s followed by the author’s belief that lower taxes would be part of the solution. Fewer tax revenues in addition to Medicare expansion to cover people who can’t qualify for underwritten insurance sounds like a job for David Copperfield, not the federal government.