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Kennedy: U.S. healthcare still needs to be better

Much has been written in this and many other publications on the failure of the Republican health care "repeal and replace" bill.

The most puzzling part of that failure is that many of the GOP's representatives and senators were dismayed that the proposal didn't cut benefits closer to the bone. Cutting 24 million people who are presently covered from the rolls along with benefit cuts for the most needy among us, while increasing premiums for the coverage just wasn't enough for them.

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Most of this makes no sense to me since the basis for the so-called Obamacare was initially the idea of the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That not withstanding, the "party of no" decided that since the proposed legislation came from the Democratic White House, it should be derided and defeated if possible. Fortunately for the American people, the Affordable Care Act passed and became law.

Ever since, the Republicans have, for the most part, railed against the law, promising to do everything in their power to rescind it. In the seven years since its passage, the GOP leadership has done nothing but whine and complain about the law instead of using the time constructively to put together something without the deficiencies of Obamacare. I realize that scenario is simple wishful thinking.

I have some thoughts about what would make our health care system one of the best in the world, or at least improve on the present law or whatever the Republicans will put together, and possibly at a lower cost.

I kind of like the idea from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. That would be to enroll each citizen, at birth, in a Medicare-type system that covers a portion of the cost of care, with a nominal premium charge. Supplemental coverage would be available from commercial insurance companies. The level of supplemental coverage would be according to the individuals' ability to pay and the desired levels of additional coverage desired. The Medicare system is already in place and is said to be the preferred method of payment by physicians, even though the reimbursements are restricted, because of the ease of filing claims and receiving payments. By using the existing bureaucracy as a model, I think that this could save a great deal of money for the government as well as for the individuals enrolled.

There needs to be a bi-partisan committee, with members from both houses, to do whatever is necessary to provide the citizens of these United States of America with a health care plan that is comprehensive and affordable and is the standard for the rest of the world to try to live up to. As it stands now, our health care system is the most costly in the world and ranks well below most of the industrialized nations in level, availability and quality of care. That is a sad commentary.

Now back to reality. There is so much divisiveness and rancor in Congress that such a committee will not and probably cannot be empowered to do the job. If it miraculously did happen, and I have little faith that it could, those at the far ends of the political spectrum would poke holes in the plan no matter how popular it might be with the general public.

I fear that there is a definite lack of visionaries and statesmen, not purely politicians, serving in most levels of government these days and that lack could doom our great country to a period of mediocrity that could take generations to get out of.

Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. Email him at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net.

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