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Non-Starters

© 2009 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 way.

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. 
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