Courage Deep

by Israel Malachi

Now comes the United States Senate to finish the job of passing a replacement to Obamacare. There have been weeks of closed-door meetings to hash out the details of the Senate bill, so that they can hold a vote before the July 4th recess. The Republicans have been largely putting this together without any input from the Senate Democrats, which certainly reeks of the same tactics the Democrats used when they were crafting the original Obamacare legislation in 2010. I guess you become what you criticize.

President Donald J. Trump has been hopeful that the Senate bill will be a little more palatable than the House of Representatives version that recently passed, which, according to the Associated Press, Trump has referred to as "mean, mean, mean." Trump was lunching with a number of Republican Senators where he told them that he expects a bill that differs from the House bill, and that the Senate should spend more on the bill to make it "generous, kind (and) with heart."

It might not be so easy as that, however. According to Senate rules, the bill passed through the body has to save $133 billion, the same amount of money as the House bill. That leaves Trump and Senate Republicans with little flexibility on spending. While they can spend more money on certain areas, they still have to hit the $133 billion marker to comply with Senate rules.

I have long advocated for a Universal Healthcare System for America. In my plan, the government doesn't mandate insurance, and most of the forced provisions of Obamacare disappear, so private insurance is more market-regulated, you know, "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door", and "Cost: push, demand: pull", and such. The government would provide basic healthcare services, administered by the US Army, paid for by an increase in the military budget. My father, an Army-man from just before the Vietnam era, used to tell me about how they ran through hundreds of physical exams in just a few hours, by having a number of soldiers trained to do one step of the process each, and running the recruits through the gauntlet.

The army could set up field-style hospitals in every community, which would be equipped to handle most common medical problems, while more serious cases could be routed to full-service hospitals, with the treatment paid for through a form of Medicaid. This would be your "free" healthcare. A system like this would not lend itself to abuse, because the treatment would not be "five-star", by any means. Those who sought more coddling and cuddling from their healthcare providers could still buy insurance, and patronize the normal hospitals that exist now.

The Army hospitals would be open to anybody, regardless of income, as long as the person was a legal resident or a citizen.

In time, the government system would not be popular, and with a little more easing of regulations, and an expansion of the privileges and allowed duties of a nurse-practitioner, registered nurse and CNA, clinics would pop up everywhere, at Walmart, Target, Kwik Trip, Walgreens, etc., and the public would have far more choices, and we would finally have a healthcare marketplace, where everybody's needs could be met, and the government could get out of the insurance business altogether.

Perhaps the only people who would suffer from this system would be the hospital administration class, who now commonly pull down 6 and 7 figure salaries, profiting quite lavishly from our current, dysfunctional healthcare system.