Spoke with a fellow entrepreneur yesterday, who implied I'm not much of an entrepreneur because I support U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' proposal—originally a Republican proposal under U.S. Senator Bob Dole (remember him?)—to expand Medicare. Talk about a rush to judgment.
I had simply suggested that Bernie Sander's proposal for a single-payer Medicare-for-All could better cover all Americans more affordably than the private insurance sector has done.
He countered that, were we simply allowed to be free (a favorite phrase of Republicans pretending to be libertarian) a private solution could be worked out. But I pointed out that the insurance market, left to its own devices, has historically permitted insurers to charge what they want and to price people out who are uninsurable (like me). This is what insurers did before the ACA; it is precisely why we need federal regulations to check their greed.
He countered that what I was proposing was tantamount to the Veterans Administration (VA) model of healthcare, a boondoggle by any estimation, an apprehension which I was quick to correct.
Yes, the VA model is a boondoggle, I first affirmed, and no, it's not the model I'm suggesting at all that we adoptd for a national universal medical plan; and neither, I would clarify, is Bernie Sanders. The VA model carries a balance sheet with assets and liabilities that are unnecessary, including hospitals, equipment, payroll for physicians, nurses, staff, etc.
Medicare-for-All is a model precisely like the existing Medicare's, which merely requires an accounting office to clear claims from and issue payments to private hospitals and providers. This is not "socialized healthcare" at all.
It's a matter of prioritization; our federal budget prioritizes Defense spending at over $700 billion to defense contractors; I'm suggesting we fund a certain budget amount to healthcare contractors, that's all. Don't buy the hospitals and doctors like the VA does—that's a foolish waste of tax dollars. Just write them a check for services rendered, just like private insurers do—and negotiate hard for a discount on those rates just like the insurers get, because as the federal government, you've got a pool of 320 million patients to bargain on behalf of.
Buying a hospital is not in the taxpayers' interest. We don't want the government to be in the business of maintaining hospitals; staffing them, maintaining them, rehabbing them, cleaning them. We just need the government to pay the hospital for patient care. Let the hospitals be owned by entrepreneurs who are in the business of running hospitals. Let entrepreneurs staff them, create the jobs, administer the infrastructure. We know they will do so for profit, but we also know that's the best motive to make sure they do it efficiently, productively, for the best return on investment. And by cutting out the middleman—insurance companies—imagine how many more dollars will be freed up for quality care for our citizens and job creation. How's that for entrepreneurial?
Dom De Bellis is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, coach, and minister of the Gospel. When he's not serving his church or Boy Scout Troop, he is helping people in cities grow organic food.