Wayne's Words: Universal Healthcare: Somewhere between is the answer

Wayne Horne | 3/16/2017, 6 a.m.
If you believe in miracles, then perhaps the newly proposed (Trumpcare) also American Health Care Act is your cup of ...

If you believe in miracles, then perhaps the newly proposed (Trumpcare) also American Health Care Act is your cup of tea. Currently being called the AHCA, it is having a difficult time finding its legs. The AHCA (I prefer the more realistic term, the Aha! Plan) is opposed by large segments of all the various players such as Republicans, Democrats, doctors, hospitals, healthcare workers, senior citizens, and even some insurance experts among others. It’s still too early to know exactly where all this will lead, but the rush to make it happen is always a red flag, especially when it comes to a Federal government program.

There have been other attempts in the past to reform all or parts of the U.S. health care system before the Affordable Care Act. Back in 1988 there was a short-lived program that altered the Medicare benefit structure. It was known as the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. It included a prescription drug provision and some benefit enhancements that duplicated benefits available in the private insurance market for less money.

Seniors revolted and the program was repealed a year and a half later because of its unpopularity. In 1988 the Clinton administration attempted an overhaul of the system but it failed because the various players did not want to work out what would be best for all concerned.

The conflicting interests in the debate make it near impossible to resolve the issue. The truth of the dilemma is somewhere between the many players. Here is what we do know from examining the issue. Medicare works for all those who are covered by its benefits. For those who want more coverage than Medicare offers there are private sector plans that cover most or all of what it does not cover. The Veteran Administration covers all veterans who are eligible to enroll at little or no cost to the veteran, and it includes prescription medications. It is the largest single payer system in the country. Medicare and the VA systems overlap and usually coordinate with each other.

In addition, we have the knowledge that most modern economically developed countries provide universal coverage for their citizens for approximately half of what it cost in the U.S. According to recent reports the average health care tab on each and every person in our country is about $9,000.

These are known parameters. Somewhere in between these known knowns is the solution if the people we elect were willing to work it out.

One last thing… in the interest of keeping a watch on the “best of” various things, this space will endeavor to keep you abreast of the trivia necessary to keep you up-to-date on unnecessary info. This week it’s about what’s “best “about living in Will County and Joliet as compared to the rest of Illinois’ counties and municipalities according to an outfit called Niche.

Will County ranks 47 out of 100 counties in Illinois (there are 102 counties in the state) for best county to live in. It’s #3 for raising a family, #6 for public schools, #10 for the healthiest and #15 for diversity. On the other end of the spectrum Will County is # 94 for lowest cost of living, #94 for counties to retire and #86 for the cost of housing.

When it comes to municipalities, Joliet ranks 34 in diversity, 118 in suburbs for millennials and 223 for buying a house. These rankings are for suburban areas in the Metro Chicago area.

I don’t know why or who comes up with this stuff, but it beats some of the more depressing facts about Illinois.

Stay tuned…