While U.S. politicians were debating a myriad of topics in New Hampshire Monday night, including the healthcare reform legislation that became law in 2009, the citizens of Great Britain were emphatic they wanted no part of what they are calling, an American-style system.
Prime Minister David Cameron did the equivalent of President George H.W. Bush's pledge on imposing new taxes, without using the words, "Read my lips." Speaking last week to government employed healthcare workers he pledged not to dismantle the current system and replace it with one that is centered on healthcare providers and insurance companies. It was Cameron who shortly after taking office pledged to make reforms from which he is now backing away.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Cameron's pledge. "We will not be selling off the NHS, we will not be moving towards an insurance scheme, we will not introduce an American-style private system," Cameron said during his address. He wanted to be certain that he emphasized the point and ended his speech by repeating his intentions, in a bit more detail.
"In this country we have the most wonderful, precious institution and also precious idea that whenever you're ill … you can walk into a hospital or a surgery and get treated for free, no questions asked, no cash asked. It is the idea at the heart of the NHS, and it will stay. I will never put that at risk," the Prime Minister told the audience.
The NHS is listed as one of the British government's largest employers and the cost of keeping it running is increasing rapidly as the population ages. As a result of that, reforms are being debated in Parliament and legislation entitled the Health and Social Care Bill is the subject of bitter partisanship, not unlike what the U.S. experienced after President Obama proposed healthcare reform.
The reforms for the NHS would take the system in the direction of allowing private companies to play more of a role in providing healthcare, reports the Daily Telegraph. As one would expect, the medical workers union is adamantly opposed to any reform and wants the bill scrapped in its entirety. Their spokesman told the Telegraph, "People really rely on the NHS, which they don't want privatized for profit."
British citizens are waiting to read the results of a review of the bill by the NHS Future Forum. It is expected to propose major changes to the draft of the Health and Social Care Bill that is the subject of the acrimony. The Forum will list what it considers the key changes that must be made to the bill for it not to inspire revolt from the unions as well as the public at large.
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