DENNIS SEID: Overhaul of reform might be needed

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

As promised by the Obama administration, we now have expanded health care coverage and an overhaul of the financial regulatory system.
Whether they’re called “reforms” or “overhauls,” these two pieces of legislation – generally championed by one side and vehemently opposed by the other – are major game-changers.
Not that health care and financial reform were not needed in some way. Clearly, both systems have needed major revamping.
In health care, costs continue to rise unabated and some 46 million people are uninsured. Another 25 million are considered underinsured.
The premise behind health care reform was to widen the net to catch more of both categories.
The financial gurus and dealmakers on Wall Street, without proper enforcement and oversight, caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Not that Washington could be held blameless for its role in helping create the mess. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, anyone?
But where compromise and statesmanship was needed, partisanship ruled, and what we have been left with are two very imperfect new laws.
Not that there is a “perfect” law. There’s always a loophole to be found.
But the transparency and openness promised by this administration and its allies have disappeared like BP’s reputation.
Raise your hand if you’ve read, much less understand, the 2,000-page health care reform bill. The same goes for the financial reform bill.
Let’s tackle health care reform for now.
At a forum last week in Tupelo, human resource professionals around the area met to hear the latest on what was happening.
The message: The rules are changing. What you know about health care reform today won’t be the same by the time it’s implemented.
When the government says it has “interim final rules” in place, you know we’re in trouble.
There’s nothing wrong with expanding coverage, improving quality and lowering costs of health care. Problem is, when the emphasis is on expanding coverage with expectations that the details will be hammered out later, the stage is set for disaster.
Without tackling tort reform or cutting waste and fraud, the noble idea of health care for everyone simply means more money out of our pockets.
In Mississippi, expanding health care coverage for those making 133 percent of the poverty level will mean further strains on an already busted Medicaid system.
Businesses with 50 or more employees will have to decide whether it’s more cost-effective to spend money on expanded health care coverage or simply pay a fine.
Hospital systems, like North Mississippi Health Systems, have an unenviable job of figuring what it must do to contain costs for its 6,000 employees, plus deliver ”affordable” health care to thousands more patients.
Still too many questions not being answered. And even then, the answers and interpretation change.
We haven’t figured out health care reform, yet we’re rushing into financial “reform.”
Was this the change we were looking for?

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.