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Op-Ed: Risk Pool Needs Expanding

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April 3, 2012 by wcobserver

By Dean Patterson

Regarding the case presently before the Supreme Court adjudicating the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, the crux is whether the federal government can require individual citizens to purchase medical insurance, i.e., the so-called “individual mandate.”

Dean Patterson

Dean Patterson

As it is now, those of us who carry medical insurance are covered for medical emergencies, but those without insurance are also covered (ultimately, by those of us who do pay for insurance), because emergency rooms never turn patients away; by law, hospitals MUST provide care regardless of any expectation for remuneration. That’s obviously not fair.

To be fair, those whose ideologies hold mandatory healthcare coverage to be unconstitutional should NOT be required to pay, but neither should they hold any expectation for cost free medical care in the event of an emergency.

We simply need a reliable way for paramedics to determine immediately at the scene of an accident whether the bleeding victim is one who has agreed to accept and pay for emergency medical care, or one who chooses, on constitutional grounds, to decline medical care under these circumstances.

It’s my belief that after allowing some few tens of thousands of strict constitutionalists to eliminate themselves from the equations by taking their ideology to their sorrowful graves, there would be a nationwide reassessment and a general agreement that the question of whether one believes the federal government has the power to enforce the “individual mandate” is for practical purposes irrelevant. The debate would then focus more narrowly to whether one is willing to be martyred upholding one’s conviction to the ideology of limited government.

At such time, the risk pool would rapidly expand to include the entire population, insurance companies would be found superfluous, a single payer agency would be seen as obviously the most effective system, and the overall cost of medical care would decline, because the system would no longer have to pay for insurance company profits and salaries for the legions of insurance company employees who labor night and day in the effort to deny and obstruct the rightful coverage for medical expenses.

After eliminating the right-wing ideologues through this simple plan, everyone left would have access to quality medical care, America’s health as a society would improve, and our nation would finally stand with the other modern nations in recognizing medical care as a basic human right.

 George Dean Patterson, Elkins

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