New approach to healthcare reform

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

President Clinton ran for president in 1992 on a promise that he would fix our healthcare system. The following year he had a chance to follow-up on his promise.

Early in his administration, he set up the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. However, rather than assembling experts in healthcare; experts in health insurance; or, expert business leaders who had successful records of tackling major problems, President Clinton assigned this task to his wife, Hillary Clinton.

The proposed legislation failed to get congressional support and died.

One political observer noted that, “Hillary Clinton had launched a massive health-care reform plan that wound up being strangled by its own red tape.”

The final nail in the coffin of Clinton’s massive healthcare overhaul was the mid-term elections of 1994. Led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the Republican Party gained control of both the House and Senate. Getting any major Democratic programs through the Republican Congress was going to be nearly impossible.

During his run for president, Barack Obama campaigned extensively on healthcare reform. It took his administration and Congress a few years to cobble together the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now called ACA or ObamaCare. It is conceded by most authorities that the primary author of the act was Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana).

In reality, it was developed by committees of senators and congressmen.

There are a few old sayings about the work that committees often produce. Such as, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Or, “An elephant is a mouse designed and built to government specifications.”

Most people will agree that if you want to fix a problem, get advice from experts in that field of endeavor and then follow their advice without compromise.

When ObamaCare was presented to Congress for a vote, it was so lengthy and complex tha Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was famously quoted as saying at a national meeting of county officials that, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Well, that “fog of controversy” has never lifted and the United States has been left with a healthcare system that many citizens and business leaders do not like or appreciate.

So, let’s really fix it.

I have stated my opinion before that a national healthcare system, like the nation’s commitment to a national standard of education, is important to every person, every family and every employer in the United States of America. A civilized country should never turnits backs on any of their citizens because they are sick and cannot afford healthcare.

So, who should develop such a program?

It should not be politicians. It should not be committees made up of politicians. It should not be the president’s wife.

A national healthcare system should be developed by people who have a proven track record of success and accomplishment. It should be implemented by businesses that have long sought relief from programs that are weighed down with too much government involvement and red-tape.

A few weeks ago, tucked away on the very back page of the Wilmington News Journal’s weekly edition of The Star Community Guide, was a fascinating article.

Three of the most successful businessmen in America have committed themselves to find a solution. They are planning the establishment of a company to “provide their employees with a high-quality, affordable care.”

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the most successful, richest businessmen in the world; Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and one of the most progressive business minds in America; and Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, one of the largest and most successful banking interests in the world, have committed to combining their talents to form this new company. Their goal is to create a company that will, “create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and potentially, all Americans.”

The company they plan to establish “will be independent and free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

At this point in time, what their new company will look like and how it will operate is unknown. However, being non-governmental and free from the political pressures facing our legislators, they don’t have to worry about upsetting massive health insurance companies and biopharmaceutical companies that donate huge sums of money to political campaigns.

Can they do it? Who knows. But I’m convinced that it’s now time to give someone else a chance to fix a problem that has plagued America for decades.

OK, Warren, Jeff and Jamie. Give it your best shot. Good luck, fellows.

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and a local resident of more than 40 years.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist