President Barack Obama has undertaken the expansion of healthcare to the roughly 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Having about 1 American in 7 with no health insurance is undeniably an undesirable situation that deserves our attention and concern.
This is not just a matter of compassion, either, but also of practicality. About the most expensive way imaginable to deal with routine illness is to provide it in hospital emergency rooms, yet this is the only alternative for millions of people. In addition, the uninsured commonly defer going to a doctor, and with the looming threat of infectious diseases to all our families, we are all at risk when millions go without needed treatment.
Our problem, however, lies in the dwindling supply of healthcare providers. Most doctors are overworked; many are underpaid. The number of doctors is increasing at a woeful 1 percent a year, and the number of available nurses has been flat for years. With an increasing population — and one that is aging as baby boomers move into their 60s — who is going to provide healthcare to 45 million more Americans, even if we make the wildly optimistic assumption that we could afford to pay for it?
Well, if you are not scared yet, you should be. Let me tell you how the so-called experts would solve this conundrum. It is not pretty. In fact, it is so ugly that no one wants to discuss it publicly. Certainly not the Obama administration, or the Democratic-controlled Congress, but also not the private insurance companies — the ones that once opposed the Clinton healthcare plan but now apparently see government as the almighty solution.
Apparently the agreed-upon approach is to give healthcare to 47 million new beneficiaries without massive new costs by being “more efficient” in allocating the currently available healthcare assets. Well, efficiency is good, right? Not necessarily.
Here is what this “efficiency” would mean in stark terms: severely restricting healthcare services to our elderly, and the severely and terminally ill. “Efficiency” here means providing services to millions of young and healthy, who do not need much of it, and cutting healthcare to seniors and the severely ill who “statistically do not have as much to lose by not getting good healthcare.”
In other words, the administration believes that those of us above 60 will not live nearly as long, no matter what healthcare we receive, as a healthy 25-year-old, so why “waste” doctors, nurses, drugs, hospitals, and surgeries on us?
Healthcare resources, in cold, hard, inhumane computer calculations, are used more “efficiently” when the elderly die years earlier after a less-healthy retirement.
My father supported Medicare. He worked tirelessly to insure that the insolvency we were facing in Medicare funding when he became president was resolved in favor of continued quality Medicare services for our senior citizens. He cared. He knew that we owe a debt to our seniors that cannot and should not be denied in the name of so-called “efficiency.”
We all want a healthcare plan that is best for all citizens, but we must do better than the proposals Democrats in Congress and the White House are floating. Go to Reagan.com and stand with me in opposing any healthcare plan that increases taxes, buries us in debt, or reallocates health care away from the elderly and the ill.
Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org). Look for his newest book, “Twice Adopted” and other information at www.Reagan.com.