Healthcare Reform Is Critical; So Is Tort Reform

Waco Tribune

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a congressional update and discussion with U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards and listen to his ideas about health care reform.

I walked away from this session believing that Edwards and I agree on one thing: When it comes to health care, we need reform.

How we get there is where our opinions differ.

Overhauling our health care system is long overdue, but problems with health care have not been caused by the Republican Party. Republicans as well as conservatives want to be included in the health care debate.

Being shut out of the process is un-American, and bipartisanship is not just going along with whatever the party in power proposes.

Bipartisanship is a process by which both major parties agree and determine a plan of action to a problem that is of great importance to the voters.

I would not consider the passage of health care reform to be bipartisan unless a large percentage of Republican House members voted in favor of the bill.

Any legislation passed should include meaningful tort reform similar to what Texas passed in 2003, limiting the amount hospitals and doctors pay in cases involving medical malpractice. Doctors and hospitals pay far too much to protect themselves against lawsuits. It works in Texas — just ask the trial lawyers.

Personal responsibility by individuals should be a prerequisite as well. People should be rewarded for living healthier lives. Individuals who choose not to live healthier should be required to pay higher premiums — that is how insurance is supposed to work.

Politicians, including Edwards, are wrong to demonize the health insurance companies that have provided coverage to hundreds of millions of Americans over many decades and saved countless lives.

Health insurance companies operate on very low profit margins compared to other industries. In fact, UnitedHealth Group over the past three years has averaged a 5 percent profit margin while Humana Inc. has averaged a meager 2.6 percent. By comparison Microsoft returned a 27 percent profit and Intel returned a 15 percent profit margin during the same period, while Merck returned 22 percent and Pfizer returned 24 percent.

One should not forget that our government is a 35 percent partner in all of these companies — in the form of taxes. Why demonize your partner?

One can only imagine what might have happened to our health care system had Congress passed the current legislation as President Obama insisted be done before the August break.

Democracies only succeed when all voices are heard. Attempts to undermine our democracy will hopefully be defeated by voices such as those heard in recent town halls.

We currently have a health care system that works for 85 percent of Americans and Congress should not have acted so irresponsibly to change that system.

Fortunately, that irresponsibility got Americans voicing their opinions; unfortunately, our country is more divided because of this irresponsible act.

Remember the president’s rallying cry: We’re not blue states, we’re not red states. We’re the United States of America. Well, it’s time for this administration to unite.

Just two weeks ago the U.S. Postal Service released its third quarter results.

For the year, the post office has lost $4.7 billion and is expected to lose more than $7 billion this fiscal year.

Why is the government even considering a public option when it fails so miserably delivering the mail? Can we really trust the government to deliver our health care?

I said I agree with Rep. Edwards that this country needs comprehensive health care reform; I only disagree with the overhauls currently being proposed in Congress.

Everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, relax, enjoy the August break. And when Congress reconvenes, start fresh and work in a bipartisan manner to reform our health care system.

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