Medical care continues to dominate our attention in this nation. I hope we don't have millions of people without health care in the next year or so.
However, in reality we already do.
A 50-year-old told my wife and I that she seriously needs a knee replacement but she can't pay her deductible and 20 percent. Together, they would cost several thousand dollars; and, on her waitress salary, she can't afford the surgery.
She has medical care but she can't afford to have a very needed surgery.
If she falls over with a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital, her insurance will, of course, pick up a major part of her treatment but she will still be stuck with a big medical bill. That would be another crisis. I wonder if her heart would be able to withstand the shock of her medical bill.
The answer to medical care in America is to put everyone 65 and over on Medicare. We pay for it so we should receive it when the time comes. Make Medicare pay for everything and get rid of the supplemental insurance.
We pay into Medicare all of our lives and then have to worry about supplemental insurance at 65. Congress should eliminate that hassle. Medicare should cover everyone over 65.
Many will go throughout life and pay very little, if any, into Medicare. Obviously, our country has major debt. Therefore, we should take some of our foreign aid to cover anyone left out.
The very poor in America should be on Medicaid. Doctors and hospitals must be required to accept Medicaid patients. I realize they have to make money but a 10 percent to 15 percent load of Medicaid patients is not asking too much for a doctor. People with pre-existing conditions should be able to buy into Medicare. Allow working Americans to buy medical insurance across state lines so we can shop for affordable insurance that fits our budgets.
Open pharmacies in Canada so we can shop for cheaper medicines.
Find a cure for cancer.
Give Americans a serious tax break if they keep their body mass index at 26 or below.
There is a further question as to whether we should keep poor senior Americans on Medicaid or, as I previously said, move them into Medicare as well. If Medicaid covers all medical treatment, it won't matter. However, if Medicaid is not accepted by all of the medical society, then we still have major issues.
Funding Medicaid and Medicare is the major part of this battle. It's time we start using casino taxes, marijuana taxes, cigarette taxes, alcohol taxes, fast food taxes, obesity taxes and soft-drink tax money to fund Medicare and Medicaid.
We could raise a lot of money and probably eliminate having two different systems, thus going to one system, which would be a national medical card for those over 65, those with preexisting conditions and the very poor.
Finally, make Congress shop for and buy their health care. Limit Congress to five terms and senators to two terms. Eliminate insider stock trading information, which is illegal for average Americans yet Congress racks up millions over the course of their tenures.
Many of our problems would be solved if Congress had to live like average Americans.
Another problem would be solved if insurance company and drug manufacturing company lobbyists are barred from Capitol Hill. Congress should be barred from receiving money in any way from these people.
Then they might make some decisions for the American people instead of what is in the best interests of their financial supporters.
Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author.