I was 14 years old when my world was turned upside down. I was told I had Type 1 diabetes — back then it was called juvenile diabetes.
From then on everyday consisted of insulin shots, peeing on a test strip, eating specific things at specific times. Today, I’m on an insulin pump with a sensor that reads my blood sugar throughout the day. There is no more peeing on a stick, but I still have to pay close attention to my diet and instead of daily insulin, I now fill my pump with insulin every three days.
For me, the health care debate is very personal. I am one of those who drive up the cost. I depend on the healthy ones to offset my expensive care.
And expensive is what it has become.
I remember pastoring in Custer, South Dakota, without insurance. A bottle of insulin ran $25, without insurance.
Today, without insurance a bottle of insulin would cost me over $300. Thankfully, I have insurance, so my co-pay is only $50.
Every year my rates, along with the cost of my company, go up.
Seven years ago, the Democrats in Congress pushed through the Affordable Care Act, without a single Republican vote. The ACA soon became known as ObamaCare. It was loved by many Democrats and hated by almost all Republicans.
Last week, the Republicans attempted to repeal and replace the ACA with their own plan, but it didn’t pass.
The Democrats claimed victory. The Republicans pointed fingers. President Trump blamed the Democrats but was angry at the Republicans and sounded like he was done with health care. We all jumped to call the President and the GOP the losers.
The real losers in this game are you and I.
A new plan should not exclude anyone due to pre-existing conditions. It needs to bring down costs of insurance coverage, medical costs and prescription drug costs. There needs to be legal reforms and help for those who can’t afford insurance, but no one should be forced to enroll.
The failure to get a Republican replacement bill was actually a good thing. Had it passed, when President Trump leaves office and if the Democrats regain the House and Senate, we will likely see a bill to repeal and replace. And then when the powers change, once again, we will see another and another.
It would be wise to allow some time to pass, a few months, before a new plan is put forth. Getting there will require hard work, cooperation and a real openness on all sides.
It will also demand a stubborn businessman, a stubborn President, to not give up. Instead he needs to step up, call the leaders of both parties, including both sides of the Republican Party, bring in some doctors and other business leaders, go away to a secluded place, lock the doors and don’t come out until you have a plan that can pass with the support from both sides.
Take the good things in the ACA — and there are some — add in some of the good things in the Republican bill. Think outside the box, find some other great ideas and come up with a brand new plan.
Some are calling for a single payer, government run system. It works in England and many other foreign countries. It is paid for by taxes, but could it work here?
If the tax is less than the premiums we pay, if it takes the cost away from businesses, it might work. Instead of paying for my health insurance, maybe my company would look at raises.
I do have concerns of the government, with all its bureaucracy controlling by health care. When I think of a government health care system, the Veterans Affairs hospitals come to mind. Care may be OK, but you might die waiting to be seen by a doctor.
On the flip side, my health care is now controlled by the insurance companies. They say what they will cover and what they will not. But I, or my company, can switch insurance providers.
The final bill, whatever it is, will not be perfect. It will not be a win for either side, but it could be a win for the forgotten ones in today’s politics, you and I.
One other thing, don’t nickname it TrumpCare. For it to last and work, it can’t be tied to a party or a single person.
We figured out how to send a man to the moon; Surely, we can put aside our differences to come up with a health care plan that can work for the majority of Americans rich or poor, healthy or like myself, not so healthy.