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If health care reform is wrong, alternative needed
Thanks but no thanks, said the governor.
Gov. Dave Heineman's decision that Nebraska won't operate a high-risk insurance pool ironically means the Republican governor is ceding more power to the federal government.
Some 4,820 Nebraskans depend on the Nebraska Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool, which was created in 1985 to cover people with pre-existing conditions who were unable to obtain coverage elsewhere.
In a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, once governor of neighboring Kansas and now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Heineman said Nebraska can't afford to subsidize a second high-risk insurance program.
Now, it seems, these desperate Nebraskans will have to be covered by a federal program that may have lower premiums, but participants probably will have had to be without health insurance for at least six months.
Some 1,500 to 5,000 Nebraskans are expected to qualify.
But if fellow Republican, Sen. Mike Johanns is right, the new health reform package puts the nation's medical care system on shaky financial ground.
According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuarial experts the new law will likely increase national health expenditures by $311 billion over the next two years, which will hurt many employees and employers.
Besides increasing health spending by $311 billion in 2010 through 2015, health care reform will hurt hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers because promised increases in efficiency can't keep up with Medicare reductions or inflation.
New fees and excise taxes will be passed through to health consumers in the form of higher drug and device prices and higher premiums.
A little more than have of those who will receive insurance will get it through Medicaid, which is becoming less and less attractive to providers, many of whom are choosing to no longer serve Medicaid patients because of under reimbursement.
And the list of problems cited by the CMS report goes on and on.
Criticism is always easy, but if opponents are to establish credibility, they need to begin work now to come up with solutions.
If Republicans hope to be successful in their quest for voters to return them to power, they must first have a convincing plan to solve the same problems they claim the opposition party "solved" in the wrong way, and they are the people to do it.
Judging from recent history, their case isn't all that convincing.