'Hands Off My Health Care' bus makes GF stopThe “Hands Off My Health Care” bus dropped by Grand Forks on Tuesday looking for a crowd of like-minded citizens, but found only about 15. Gathered at Town Square, they were a calm and patient lot, not the angry mob you’ve seen on TV.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
The “Hands Off My Health Care” bus dropped by Grand Forks on Tuesday looking for a crowd of like-minded citizens, but found only about 15.
Gathered at Town Square, they were a calm and patient lot, not the angry mob you’ve seen on TV.
The main speaker, Brett Narloch, who heads the conservative North Dakota Policy Council, delivered some soothing remarks to the effect that everyone can agree something needs to be done, but more government isn’t the answer because that would just mean more taxes.
Neither he, nor the other speaker, Tom Brusegaard, former state representative from Gilby, invoked the Democrats, whose plan is the bête noire inciting this 13-state bus tour by the anti-tax group Americans For Prosperity.
What Democrats want is government-run health insurance to compete with private insurers and bring costs down. They also want a few other things, but not too many are that fired up about them.
The main thrust of the libertarian-conservative alternative, as Narloch and Brusegaard explained, was for states to jack up competition among insurers.
The United States is a patchwork of insurance regulations that vary by state, which raises costs for insurers and makes it hard for them to offer comparable plans in all states, Brusegaard said. States should work together to harmonize their regulations, he said.
North Dakota is one of a minority of states that let insurance commissioners approve premium hikes.
Narloch said he’d like each state to let residents buy cheaper insurance from outside insurers that aren’t licensed in the state.
Citizens at the rally recognized that the Democratic plan, if it passed, would have no immediate impact on their health care. It’s the slippery slope and unintended consequences that they’re afraid of.
Del Adolph, Portland, N.D., said that, if government insurance were cheaper, his employer might ditch its private insurer. If that happened, he said, a government panel would get to decide if he’d get certain medical procedures, not his doctor.
Actually, the “death panel” is a myth, according to the AARP, whose members are the ones most likely to face such a thing. There is no panel, just a voluntary consultation between patients and doctors — not faceless bureaucrats — about end-of-life issues such as living wills and hospices for the terminally ill.
The National Right to Life Committee doesn’t like this, mostly because it’s afraid seniors might feel pressured by their doctors, perhaps unwittingly, into not getting an expensive procedure.
Dane Ferguson from Grand Forks said he isn’t likely to be affected by the Dem plan, either. He’s afraid that government insurance, backed up by tax dollars, could drive private insurers out of business and create a de facto national health insurance.
What would be wrong with that? Medicare is essentially free health insurance for seniors, and they aren’t complaining.
“Society’s accustomed to that,” Ferguson said. “If you take that away, there’s going to be an uproar.”
“When the government gets its teeth into something, it can’t let it go,” Adolph said. It’s better to nip this government insurance in the bud before we get used to it and it becomes another costly entitlement, he said.
Asked if privatizing Medicare to take advantage of the free market would be a good idea, Brusegaard said he wouldn’t be surprised if Americans For Prosperity were to look into that, but the group’s in defensive mode now, so that would have to wait.
Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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