Steve Lunetta: In search of elusive compromise

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Aren’t you fed up with this by now?

We seem to have become so narrowly focused and polarized in our views that real and important change does not happen.

“My way or the highway” appears to be the thinking of many of us. How did we get this way? The Congress of the United States of America was itself a compromise creating two houses to balance the interests of large and small states.

Was it exactly what each side wanted? Nope. But each one got a little and was satisfied to move forward.

This represented a huge improvement over a single-house form of government and was a triumph for the idea that compromise could forge great success in human governance.

But triumph has been elusive for us Americans in one area: health care.

We can’t seem to agree on health care programs. In 2010, Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA) was passed without a single Republican vote in support. Recently, the AHCA (the American Health Care Act of 2017) was passed without a single Democratic vote.

C’mon, Congress! This is not acceptable! You must learn to work together and create a compromise piece of legislation that benefits the majority of the American people.

You cannot adhere so closely to your philosophical mantras that true compromise is not attainable.

The Democratic ACA was signed into law but is being swept aside by a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

So what will happen in the future? Even if the Republican AHCA is signed into law, four years later, if the Democrats control Congress (and current trends say they will), the AHCA will be swept aside for yet another program.

Does this make any sense?

No; it’s pure foolishness, this continuous cycle of creating health plans and then destroying them when another group with a new philosophy occupies positions of power.

These groups are set in place by a fickle American people who can’t seem to decide what flavor of tooth paste to buy in the store, let alone a fair and just health care system.

Something has to change.

Perhaps Congress can try compromise? And I am not referring to the cynical horse-trading that Washington, D.C., typically practices (which greatly resembles bribery).

I mean looking at an issue, determining where gaps in philosophy exist, and then negotiating to close the gaps.

For example, Obamacare forced the states to create their own exchanges, effectively limiting risk pools to the size of the state – California has a large risk pool while New Hampshire’s would be much smaller.

Some folks have suggested breaking down state barriers to allow more interstate commerce. Others like me support a nationwide risk pool.

How about a compromise? Set up “regional risk pools” where several large states and small states get together to mitigate risk.

OK, I am no insurance expert. I have no idea if that would even work. What I am illustrating is the idea of a compromise. Neither side gets exactly what it wants but a middle road is obtained that both sides can live with.

What about the area of tort reform? Surely trial lawyers will vehemently oppose any change to the current system, as it represents a huge amount of business for their industry. Also, trial lawyers are significant campaign donors.

What if tort reform was enacted but “softened” to allow trial lawyers to replace this income with other areas of legal practice? What about a graduated level of tort reform enacted over a five-year period?

Again, this could represent a compromise versus draconian sweeping tort reform in just one year.

As in the concept of consensus, each side would be required to actively support the decision. This would prevent later back-stabbing by clever political operatives (of which we see a great deal recently).

Compromise is a lost art these days. Maybe teachers can begin teaching it in schools as part of a core curriculum? Before they take it into the classroom, teachers could practice on our elected leaders in Washington.

Let’s create a health care system that we all can live with that does not change every four years.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is hopeful that our leaders can find a path forward. He can be reached at [email protected].

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