Time for health care 'do-over'

Friday, January 22, 2010

"You can't always get what you want...but if your try sometimes, you just might find -- you get what you need." -- Keith Richards, Mick Jagger

The contentious debate on overhauling our health care debate has taken yet another turn. The special election Tuesday in Massachusetts to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy was won by Scott Brown, a Republican state senator.

Brown's election breaks the "super majority" of the Democratic party in the Senate, ending the period of time when measures could be protected from filibusters.

By yesterday, President Obama and the leaders of the House and Senate were scrambling to find what could be salvaged from the nearly year-long work on health care reform. Admitting that they focused too much on health care and too little on the economy, the president and his party are back at square one.

Many would argue that this is a good thing. That would be the last thing they would agree on, however. Some felt that the current legislation did not go far enough, others felt it went too far.

We can all agree that something needs to be done. We advocate for some regulatory changes that would open up the insurance market for increased competition. Among the things that should be addressed, in our opinion are:

* Allowing health insurance to be sold nationally. Currently, the policy you buy and the premiums you pay in Iowa are different that similar policies in Colorado. Allowing national policies should increase competition and bring down prices.

* Allow risk pooling. This would allow businesses to join together to form a larger customer base, spreading the potential costs over a larger number of policy holders. This should also result in increased competition and lower costs.

* Outlaw exemptions for pre-existing conditions. This practice forces anyone with health conditions to remain at jobs to keep insurance and others to pay much higher premiums for less coverage.

We feel these three changes would lower costs for nearly everyone.

Perhaps after all of this tussle, we could get down to what everyone knows we need.