by H.B. Koplowitz
America's healthcare crisis and the crisis in the Middle
East would seem to be two intractable problems. What is
common to both is that the most elegant solutions are
considered "non-starters." In terms of healthcare, it's
single-pay. In terms of Israel and Palestine, it's
single-country. Work with me.
Instead of solutions, compromises are proposed. In the case
of healthcare, it's a hybrid system that preserves private
health insurance while providing a public health insurance
option. In the case of the Middle East, it's partitioning
the land into two states, Israel and Palestine.
Opponents of the public option believe it could lead to the
end of private health insurance. Opponents of a Palestinian
state believe it could lead to the end of Israel. They are
right that one could lead to the other. But they are wrong
that either would be the end of the world.
Back to that in a moment. Since compromises are all that's
being offered, let's deal with those first. With slight
adjustments, both might work.
In the case of healthcare, instead of regulating health
insurance companies and prohibiting them from excluding
people for pre-existing conditions, the industry should
instead be deregulated. Insurance companies would still have
to make good on their policies, but could shed their toxic
assets, i.e., sick people, and only insure the healthy and
wealthy, whom they'd have a financial incentive to provide
with preventive health services to ensure they stay that
Sick people could go to the same place as the toxic assets
in the banking and real estate industries: the public
option. Businesses, large and small, should have the option
of continuing to provide their employees with private health
insurance, or not, and employees should also have the option
of private insurance, if they could afford or qualify for
it, or the public option.
Some of the money to fund the public option could come from
the huge amount that businesses and employees already pay
for health insurance. I'm just spitballing here, but give a
third of that money to the government to fund healthcare, a
third to businesses as a tax cut and a third to employees as
a pay raise is a place to start haggling. Private and
unregulated health insurance could become as competitive as
the market would allow. If, in the end, if couldn't compete
with the public option, so be it, and vice versa.
As for the Middle East, the two-state solution just needs a
tweak. Instead of getting rid of those Israeli settlements
in the West Bank, let them expand -- and become part of
Palestine. And for every Israeli settler in Palestine, a
Palestinian refugee should be granted the right of return to
Israel. Israeli settlers would become Palestinian citizens,
raise their children and grow their businesses in Palestine,
and participate in Palestinian elections. Palestinians would
have the same rights and opportunities in Israel.
Probably another non-starter. But a Palestine with Jews
would be less threatening to Israel, just as an Israel with
Arabs would be less threatening to Palestine. And as the two
countries came to resemble each other demographically, it's
not inconceivable they might one day merge into a Palisrael
or Israelstine, or perhaps Canaan. Which wouldn't be the end
of the world.