Having run for the state Legislature, I have a different perspective on the business and Chamber concern over the health care reform law. My approach to the business community during my campaigns was to encourage them to get ahead of the issue and not let an economic crisis result in a government takeover of health care without correcting the costs, inefficiencies, and lack of universal coverage. I advocated limiting government responsibility to providing basic health care to all citizens, defined as the care that can be provided in Willmar, Minn., except for cancer chemotherapy, plastic surgery and dialysis. (A resolution to this effect was passed at our Meeker County DFL convention in March.)
In the state Chamber of Commerce survey, candidates were asked to respond to four initiatives by the Chamber to reform health care. Although I agreed these actions would be of some benefit, given the scope of the problem I stated that they would be about as effective as putting a saddle on a dead horse. I didn't get their endorsement.
Now we Democrats have succeeded, with great effort, in putting a new saddle on the dead horse. The saddle has a number of very positive features but doesn't fix the system.
Politicians, Republican or Democratic, are not going to change this system, as it allows them to vote new benefits for their constituents without the taxes to pay for them, and the system passes the burden onto the private payers: businesses. Constituents are not going to demand a change to the system, as they get their care with someone else paying the bill.
I want to convince the business community that true reform will only occur when they refuse to be the vehicle by which we provide health care in America. My experience, unfortunately, has been that although the business mind may run on profit and loss statements, their actions on health care are driven by the Republican opposition to government that is in their heart. Until this changes, I believe that we are all along for the ride -- sort of.
David Detert, M.D.