Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Health Care Reform: Seeking The Archimedean Point

In lore, the Archimedean point is a fabled location where all can be seen. It is a place where all sides of an issue are clearly evident so that a decision could be made.

The problem with health care reform is that no one seems to be able to give a clear idea as to what this reform is truly all about. Certainly, Obama isn't able to; and, unlike the fabled Archimedean Point, there is no single place where one can stand that allows you to see all the aspects of the proposed bill without obscuring any underlying problems. That's because health care reform is being made in a sausage-like fashion by a bunch of individual groups that are spread out all over Congress. This is why Obama seems to be constantly getting caught in his all-too-common misrepresentations.

The latest revelation on health care reform shows that the Senate Finance Health Care Reform Bill (aka the Baucus Bill) will cut Medicare Advantage benefits. Once again, this is contrary to a recent promise that Obama had made.

There is a way of somewhat achieving the Archimedean Point. The way to it is by having a Presidential Commission that is totally non-partisan and that is first dedicated to identifying and quantifying the good and bad of our current health care system. Upon completion of that task, the results would be presented to the President, the Congress, and to the American people. This, then, becomes the basis of health care reform.

From there, the same Commission would develop recommended changes. Not just one but multiple options with the upside and downsides being disclosed/discussed. Again, it would quantify all the costs and risks associated with each and any reform option. Those resulting findings would be again presented to the President, to the Congress, and to the American people.

Using the Commissions findings, the Congress would, then -- and only then -- formulate the final legislation; based on the best option.

This is what is missing in this whole process. Currently, it almost feels like the Three Stooges are trying to cobble a bill together with some big game clock hanging over the heads of Congress. Obama is completely AWOL as a true leader in this process. In effect, with speech after speech, he has become a press secretary for health care reform.

A commission would restore order to the process and get the American people on board with it. I am sure that the major objection by the Democrats will be that something like a Commission could add months to the process. But, I don't think the most Americans would mind if it appeared that we were finally moving towards a real, comprehensive, and cohesive solution. After all, much of what the current health care reform is about wouldn't go into effect until 2013 anyway.

And, that's just my opinion.

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