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Monday, June 28, 2010

Solution for the Health Care "Crisis"

The Current System
Doctors become members of insurance groups. Patients subscribe to these groups and are limited to only those doctors within the group. The absurdity of this arrangement is best illustrated by applying this same arrangement to the auto industry. Suppose that AutoInsuranceCo only allowed its customers to purchase AutoManufacturerCo cars and use AutoManufacturerCo mechanics. Furthermore, if an auto needed repairs, the owner would first need to take the car back to the dealer and get prior approval. Once this approval was received the customer could only use AutoRepairShop.
Separate Doctors and Insurance Companies
The key to this solution is to separate the doctors from the insurance companies. Insurance companies would cover treatment options and customers could select which plans they desired based on their own ability to pay a deductible. If a patient values cancer coverage he will pay for this. If a patient values traumatic coverage rather than routine coverage he can pay for this. This is akin to the auto insurance coverage where a person can select varying levels of coverage based on his own evaluation of the risks and likelihood of certain accidents and results from those accidents occurring (i.e. uninsured motorist, personal injury).
This will allow a patient to select any doctor to treat him. The patient can then negotiate the fee and the insurance company will pay its share of the treatment. This gives incentives to the doctors to lower prices and provide better care because they will be competing with each other more directly instead of getting automatic patients from insurance company referrals.

The Uninsured
This may sound like a cruel idea but no service is owed to any person who cannot afford to pay for it. By eliminating “free” care to those who show up at emergency rooms without insurance coverage it will force people to place health care insurance on a higher priority level and thereby increase the amount of people who are covered. Those that do not pay for coverage will have acted upon their own value system without costing everyone else.Children who are not covered would still receive care but the parents would be held responsible for the costs via the court system. If a patient cannot or will not provide identification information, the hospital will be absolved from all liability for non-treatment.
In addition to this, bankruptcy law could be amended to remove healthcare debt obtained while a party is uninsured from the list of dischargeable debts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Change the Primary Process - Destroy the Two Party System

The two party system has failed America.  It has created gridlock in Washington and shut out alternative ideas (those that are not espoused from the Republican or Democratic party).  The election process must be changed to allow more parties to enter the political arena which will give more Americans a voice in how the country's government operates.

Currently, the two main parties receive government funding to assist them in running an election to choose their presidential candidate. This funding is a way for the two parties to maintain their absolute power over the government of the United States.

No government funding should be given to any party to assist them in staging an election. The parties should be considered private organizations and have to seek funding like any other private club, from membership.  Publicly funded primaries would be eliminated. Each party would be free to set up its own primary voting system and have to pay for them.

The process for a party being placed on ballots for House of Representatives, Senate, and President of the federal government would change to allow more parties to be represented.  In order to get on the national ballot a particular party must have a certain number of registered members. If the party is not able to gain enough membership, they may submit a pre-determined number of signatures as a substitute (likewise for candidates not seeking office as a member of a party).

After a party is qualified for the ballot, parties may hold a primary to select a candidate. Since this would be a private process, the parties may do this any way they choose but at their own expense, not on  the taxpayers' dime.  Once a party selects a candidate for the federal election it can be placed on  the ballot.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FIFA World Cup and USA Fans

I have come to the conclusion that the people of the US will NEVER follow "football" like Europeans and South Americans do.  However, when it comes to any USA endeavor on the international stage we all become fanatics for our country.  This is the only explanation I can come up with for the wall-to-wall coverage of FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa on ESPN and USA television networks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Government Sanctioned Marriage - Flawed Public Policy

Many politicos in America see gay marriage as a threat to heterosexual marriage. Every few years we find a movement which is promoting an amendment to the Constitution which will ban gay marriage. I take an entirely different approach to the problem.

Why is marriage an issue that the government is involved in? Marriage is an event where two people decide based on their own personal and/or religious beliefs to join together in a contractual relationship. The government has sanctioned marriages under the guise of supporting the family unit, distributing tax benefits. and assisting private enterprises in the allocation of financial and health benefits. It seems to me that this is a flawed idea. If more people are permitted to marry this will place more money into the insurance and benefit coffers which theoretically should bring the costs down for everyone.

Gay men and women choose to be with their partners. They can, by way of medical science or adoption, have families. They go to work and contribute to the economy just the same as their heterosexual counterparts. These families need legal protection just like any family does. When a gay person chooses to form a family unit, be it with children or just a spouse, this is a commitment which must be recognized and rewarded.

Those who oppose gay marriage use the argument that they are seeking to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Sanctity is a concept derived from religion. While I value the contributions that religions have made to American society, this is a flawed way to create laws in a liberal society (a society of laws). Most major religions have some prohibition on homosexual conduct. I agree that no one should be forced to sanction conduct that is contrary to their religion. However, by no one, I am referring to individuals acting in their individual capacity. A government should not be acting on the basis of a religious bias.

Religion does serve a purpose in American society but only on a personal level and not on Public level. Gay people have an inherent right to choose their own partners and paths in life. Heterosexuals have the same rights. By allowing gay people to marry it is not lowering the ability of the heterosexual couple to do the same. If anything, it opens up the possibility that more people will choose to engage in a stable relationship.

The real issue is that the government is involved in the sanctioning of marriage in the first place. Marriage is a personal event and should not be intruded on by a government of limited powers. Removing the government from the sphere of marriage will strengthen individual liberties. Anyone should be able to form a union with the partner of their choosing and recieve the benefits of such a union.

The recent disputes in Conservative Judaism, Christianity, and other religions regarding the ordination of gay priests and the performance of gay marriage ceremonies is where the discussion should be held. Marriage traditionally was a religious event joining a man and a woman into one unit as husband and wife. Religions are theoretically G-d given doctrines that cannot be changed. They are roadmaps for a way of life as prescribed by G-d and interpreted by the scholars who study the religious materials. A person is free to find a religion or person who will sanctify their marriage.If a person's religion does not accept the union that is alright. When a government begins enacting its own laws (doctrines) based on these religious doctrines it is not acceptable.

Others will argue that gay marriages cheapen the quality and image of heterosexual marriage. This argument is flawed because in an age where a majority of marriages end in divorce the quality and image of heterosexual marriage is already in the trash bin. If gay couples seek to join the rest of society so be it.

What of the tax benefits and legal protections afforded to married couples now that gay couples do not recieve? There is no reason why the government cannot create a program which registers couples. These are called Civil Unions. They are contracts which provide each member of the union with benefits and rights. Tax benefits currently given to heterosexual couples can be shifted to apply to Unions. Life insurance, health insurance, child custody arrangements, property distribution rights, divorce laws, and other laws and benefits can all be shifted to include Unions. No one would be forced to register their marriage as a Union but those that do not would not be entitled to the benefits and protections afforded those that do.

I do not know if being a homosexual is a choice or a "birth defect" or an inborn condition. That is not for a government to decide. Government is set up to protect the people and enact laws to protect personal liberties. Sexual conduct of citizens has largely been ruled out of the reach of the government except in some limited cases to protect children and incestual relationships. Where there are two consenting adults there should not be a government intrusion. As a heterosexual married person, I find it intrusive that I was required to register my marriage. In fact, the Rabbi performing at my ceremony would not marry us without a government marriage license. I certainly would have registered my marriage as a civil union to protect myself and reap the government sponsored benefits of such a union, but that should have been an individual choice, not a legal requirement.