As the healthcare reform debate rages in town halls across the country, Washington politicians and Americans are taking sides in one of the most important decisions of our generation. There appears to be consensus that some level of reform is needed but there is a passionate difference of opinion whether the new plan should include a public insurance option. Those in favor, argue that a government run health insurance program will guarantee coverage for all and create greater competition among insurers. Those against believe that the government, with unlimited access to taxpayers money, will have an unfair advantage and eventually become the sole source of healthcare in America (socialized medicine).
Should the government be in the health insurance business? The best way to look into the crystal ball of the future is to look at the past. Most recently, the government got into the car business with their ‘Cash for Clunkers’ stimulus program. This program, from an administrative viewpoint, should have been a piece of cake to run efficiently. It was all Internet based with car dealers submitting proof of clunker transactions over the Internet and the government then wiring reimbursements to the dealers bank account. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Here is a typical dealer experience:
The government announced to the public that the program would begin July 1. However, it was not until July 24 that the 19,000 dealerships were eligible to participate. Local dealer, Hoover Toyota, completed 115 clunker transactions and so far has been reimbursed for four deals. The dealers were prohibited from making any money on the clunker but must use their own capital or borrow money to pay the customer for the clunker while they wait on government reimbursement. Some dealers, expecting the promised 10-day government reimbursement, ran out of capital, were unable to meet payroll and had to drop out of the program. Virtually all dealerships experienced ‘blackouts’ where it was impossible to submit required paperwork due to the government’s computer system crashing on numerous occasions. The whole experience can best be summed up by Gordon Stewart, president of Hoover Toyota. “While I was thrilled with the increased store traffic and resulting sales, as a businessman, I was appalled at how this program was administered.” The government has given Mr. Stewart no indication of when he will receive the balance of reimbursements he is owed.
This is not a particular political party problem; rather it is a politician problem. Most politicians have never experienced the challenge of running a for-profit business; meeting a payroll; or making the kind of decisions that business owners must make each day to survive, much less be profitable. It’s difficult and it takes a certain set of skills…skills that politicians don’t have.
There’s a perfect litmus test that will guarantee we get the best healthcare possible for the least costs. Require that 100% of our congressional representatives and senators be on whatever healthcare plan they pass! You can be part of the solution by contacting your representatives and demand they are covered by the same healthcare plan as the rest of us. It’s easy…go to the Resource Center at www.welchgroup.com; click on ‘Links’; then ‘Congressional Representatives’. If you choose to do nothing, don’t complain about the final result. You got what you deserved!