usually, I find the Marquette Tribune’s Emil Ovbiagele’s pieces on foreign policy and global issues to be somewhat overly optimistic in their conciliatory tone. But yesterday’s column on healthcare reform is rather insightful:
With the new bill, more than 30 million people will gain health care coverage, but with a deficiency in primary care physicians and nurses in the country, meeting demand might prove to be problematic.
The legislation does call for more funding for scholarships and loan repayments for those interested in primary care in an attempt to make the field more alluring.
However, with health care reform set to take full effect in the next few years, the likelihood of having a system ready to cope with the demand is unlikely. Also, the current law is unlikely to drive down the cost of actual health care. Yes, it’s certain to reduce the nation’s deficits, but certainty lies far when talking about its effect on rising medical costs.
Obama’s reform plan does promise to extend coverage to 30 million, but that’s not everyone. And the major drivers of health care costs are the uninsured, who may only show up for treatment at the emergency rooms where costs are significantly higher.
So although insurance costs will be subsidized for many, as long as medical costs continue to rise, premiums will respond in a directly proportional manner. Furthermore, the logistics of the exchange program from state to state still remains a mystery. The law to some extent doesn’t pay enough attention to the fact that things work differently from state to state. How will multiple insurance companies be drawn to the exchange program, especially in states where the health insurance sector has been monopolized? This is a huge challenge because without creating effective competition, the bliss of health care reform may be a fluke.
Also, governors from various states have expressed concerns that a further addition of 16 million people to the Medicaid program will incur billions of dollars to their states’ already constrained budgets.
Another argument raised by critics, which I think is plausible, is the potential harm of the social safety net over-expanding. There’s a conservative thought that if you expand safety nets to the poor, indolence and laxness will ensue. And I must say there is some truth to that. There’s always that potential for individuals who are poorer to become more laid back — especially when the government makes frantic efforts to care for them through social safety net programs funded by the rich. Hence, public officials face a dichotomy between wanting to assist the poor and fearing they will inhibit individual responsibility — the very foundation of the American dream.