December 11, 2013

Brian Anderson: America deserves a time out

By Brian Anderson

— Einstein once stated, “Everything should be made as simple as possible ... but not simpler.” In the Army, a new soldier will hear the axiom “Keep It Simple Stupid” more than he or she would ever want to.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am fully aware that life and the requisite problems or opportunities that life produces can be quite complex. I would argue that regardless of the complexity of the opportunity, we have a tendency to over-complicate the response (especially in the political world).

Consider the much debated, maligned or praised Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (I refuse to call it by its other name). You would have to have lived under a rock for decades not to know the U.S. health care system was in trouble. Skyrocketing costs, over-utilization of emergency rooms, lack of coverage and denial of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions — just to name a few. But instead of taking a more simple and reasoned approach to reform, we got an overly complex, massive reach by the federal government. Why?

Believe it or not, the answer is quite simple. The Democrats fought gallantly and admirably to insure our country’s traditionally uninsurable. The Republicans obstructed any changes to a failing system, standing on the principles that health care is not a right but a privilege. Both were right and wrong at the same time.

How can any sane/logical person argue that citizens affected by a life-threatening disease be further threatened by financial ruin because they have no insurance coverage or minimal coverage. Similarly, how could any sane/logical person argue that the federal government with its stellar track record of running things like the Post Office or the IRS argue that the government should manage something as complex as our health care system.

As usual the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The Democrats (and most independents) were justifiably right in arguing that our system needed a few fixes. The Republicans were right in working to prevent a single-payer national health care plan, or simply put, a complete takeover by the federal government.

Both parties were wrong in failing to work together in producing a real “Affordable Care Act” that would protect Americans from financial ruin through becoming sick. Both should also work to provide insurance options that cover pre-existing conditions and establish goals/measures that work to reduce cost through best practices and reduced bureaucracy.

America deserves better than what we have received: another federal entitlement program that does little of what it promised while driving costs up, and frustrating millions by their plans being canceled and the government website not working. And the worst of it all is the lack of accountability by those involved that have forced this plan on all Americans.

What we need is a time out. The penalties for not signing up by March 1, 2014, need to be delayed at least until Jan. 1, 2015. All plans that were in effect prior to Oct. 1, 2013, should be reinstated (if they have been canceled) and allowed until canceled by the insured. And then the president and the leaders of both parties need to sit down and negotiate in good faith in reforming the current law into what is needed, what is practical/affordable and what will actually work.

Seems simple to me.

Brian Anderson is the president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.