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AS I SEE IT

Posted 11/18/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Trust me. I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.
How many times have Americans heard that statement? And how many times after we’ve had such a conversation have we wished that the conservation had never begun.
It’s a simple fact. In most cases, the government cannot do most things better than we can do ourselves or that can be done by private business. But still the government and politicians can’t seem to help themselves, and in the process only muddy the water.
A case in point is the narrow passage of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The House Democrats needed 218 votes to ensure passage of the bill and just eked by with a final 220-215 vote.
While most Americans readily admit that there are serious flaws with the nation’s healthcare system, obviously the recently passed legislation that is now on its way to the U.S. Senate for action failed miserably to bring about true reform. If it had, the supporting vote should have been resounding.
The mentality of the House Democrats, including North Dakota’s Earl Pomeroy, as well as the few Republicans that voted for the passage of H.R. 3962 was that passing the bill was the right thing to do to keep the conversation going.
And what can most Americans expect if H.R. 3962 becomes a reality as passed? Higher costs of both health care and health care insurance and reduced care. According to the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services, the House’s healthcare reform plan would result in lower payments to providers such as doctors and hospitals as a result of the reductions in Medicare spending, drive up the cost of health care, and hurt seniors.
Which brings most Americans to the obvious question, “why did the House pass a bill that apparently did the complete opposite of what was intended?”
And the question that many North Dakotans, in particular, are now asking is, “considering how dependent North Dakota’s healthcare systems are on receiving an adequate level of Medicare reimbursement, why would Congressman Pomeroy cast his vote for a bill that  threatens that level of reimbursement and puts the state’s healthcare system in even further financial jeopardy?”
The apparent answer to both of those questions would seem to be that the House of Representatives and Congressman Pomeroy wanted to be able to say that they passed something in the way of healthcare reform.
The “pass it now and fix it later” concept of government programs simply isn’t going to work with healthcare reform. It is too critical of an issue. So either Congress needs to get it right the first time or they should leave it alone.