by Pettus Read
I have been keeping up with the town hall meetings going on around this country concerning health change and I have to admit that World Championship Wrestling is going to lose its viewer market if this thing is not settled in some other manner. I know reality TV is something a lot of folks enjoy, but I have yet to see reality presented in a sane and courteous manner in some of these knockdown and drag out venues. These things have gone well beyond a debate and resemble more the crazy political conventions we see in the summer every four years.
A few years ago, a book came out entitled, "Everything I Know, I Learned In Kindergarten," and I'm thinking a lot of the people at the town hall meetings were from my generation when kindergarten wasn't available. My reason for this thought is that the direction taught in kindergarten relates to a child being taught how to share, being polite to others, and taking turns in daily tasks. Many of the town hall meetings I've witnessed have been anything but something that was taught in kindergarten. I think a lot of the methods of communicating were more like things learned in a tough daycare where everyone looks out for self, more so than the well-being of everyone.
I admit the health care debate and what to do to reform our current system is a tough one. In fact, I'm writing this article sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife to get back from surgery. We are dealing with cancer and I've seen health care at two different hospitals in the last two weeks and understand the confusion that many folks have on what to do next when dealing with the system. I have health insurance and have paid for it for many years, but would give anything not to have to be using it now. But, I have also been in emergency room waiting areas over the last few weeks and seen a lot of people without health coverage, in many cases at no fault of their own, face some really tough decisions and circumstances. Something does need to be done, but not at too rapid of a pace that could cause even more problems.
Having worked with our state's many farmers for the past 40 years and continuing to do so, I know that they purchase their health insurance in the individual marketplace due to their being self-employed. With current discussions in Washington, many of our food producers are concerned about the affordability of health insurance for them in the future. Proposals being considered in Congress include, among many other troubling aspects, the concepts of Guarantee Issue and Community Rating. Guarantee Issue requires insurers to provide health insurance coverage to anyone at any time. Community Rating limits premium differences across policies and forces a one-size-fits-all approach to health coverage.
Tennessee Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch recently said, "Requiring these types of mandates - though they may sound good at first glance - or forcing insurers to cover everyone will mean higher insurance premiums. We're trying to protect those individuals who have sought to do the right thing by maintaining personal health care coverage and paying the full cost of that coverage. Currently only New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have both Community Rating and Guarantee Issue laws and these states have the most expensive individual insurance markets in the country."
Upchurch was referring to the efforts being implemented by Farm Bureau in contacting Congress to express the organization's concerns in health care reform. They want to share the goal of reining in health care costs, but would rather see health care reform that improves and builds on the current health care delivery system.
Increases from such mandates could make private health insurance unaffordable for many farmers. Due to the business nature of farms, they cannot pass those cost increases on to customers like other businesses.
Back in 1994, Tennessee implemented a government run health care program called TennCare, which I'm sure many of you remember. That program ignored the basic principles of insurance management incorporating unlimited coverage, rich benefits and subsidized by the state over and beyond good business practices. It put Tennessee in the tank with the budget and caused some folks to look at an income tax for the state that sent horn-honkers circling the Capitol. I don't want to imagine what could happen if the same thing comes true for the nation.
It's time for kindergarten training to kick in during this discussion process. Let's take a look at health care reform slowly and attempt to keep coverage affordable for everyone. Everyone is entitled to their say, but not always their way.