From my point of view

Friday, July 27, 2001

by: Michael Wilkey

A growing problem today in our society comes from individuals, many of whom are liberals, socialists, and communists, who believe that a central government should control every part of our economy, our markets, and our freedom. One of the major issues that these "Nanny State Elitists" want to control is the healthcare system in this country. From the "Hillary Care" nonsense of the early 1990's to the current debate over a Patients' Bill of Rights, these individuals attempt to sale the notion that the government is the best handler of healthcare in this nation. In my opinion, they are dead wrong. A simple look at "government controlled healthcare" around the world proves this. In Canada, a country that supporters of a Patients' Bill of Rights point to as a "success", (according to the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario), more than 1,500 patients are on a waiting list at any given time during the year. In Great Britain, according to James Frogue of the Heritage Foundation and media accounts, more than 1.3 million British patients were on waiting lists for care in 1998. These numbers mean that with meddlesome regulations, it creates long waiting lists and horrible care.

Liberals and others point to the number that 42 million Americans go without health insurance at any given time in the U.S. every year. They never tell you, however, that many of the individuals who go without health insurance are in that predicament, because of government intervention in the healthcare business. First, many small business owners are hurt by high overhead costs, high taxation, and burdensome regulations; so many small business owners cannot afford health insurance. According to Frogue, this could be avoided simply by allowing small business owners in the same line of work (restaurant owners, gas station owners, factory owners) in a town, county, or state to pool their resources and buy insurance, thus lowering the cost. Second, we need to expand tax credits and medical savings accounts, for everyone. Frogue again points out that a study by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business concluded that a tax credit equal to 50 percent of premiums would reduce the 42 million number in half. Third, we need to allow individuals to save and make tax-free or tax deferred payments to their insurance company. This would allow families, especially with special needs children or a critical situation, to save and put money aside for an operation, chemotherapy, or any other health procedure. Finally, we need tort reform right now. Tort reform will protect insurance providers, consumers, and small business owners from having to face ridiculous lawsuits and outrageous settlements. As I stated in an earlier column, the current Patients' Bill of Rights bill will open the floodgates for reduced services by insurance companies and increased premiums for consumers.

The debate over healthcare is a debate where ideas and the free market system should prevail. This debate is not about scaring senior citizens, running ads on television stating that one political party wants little old ladies to eat Alpo, or making a "Boogy Man" out of the insurance industry. This debate is about being honest with people, something foreign with liberals in Washington for 60 years.

Correction: In last week's column, a word was used to precede the name of the current Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, and the former governor of this state, Jim Guy Tucker. That word was inadvertedly placed into the column, as part of an editing mistake, that appeared only after the column was written. Again, I apologize to the current Governor, the former governor, their families, and anyone else who may have seen the mistake.

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