The debacle of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives means that improvements in health care will not likely come from within Congress in the foreseeable future. Our polarized and paralyzed politics almost certainly guarantee that.

Per capita health care spending in this country, according to informed reports, is 2.5 times the average of more than 20 other developed nations, and our “system” ranks below at least as many nations for the quality of outcome. Clearly, there is room, even urgency, for improvement. If a better system is to come, it most likely must originate from sources outside Congress.

But surely Congress could agree on the simple principle that all our people should have access to cheaper, affordable health care as good as any in the world. That principle argues for the study commission suggested here.

Perhaps Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree could introduce legislation, hopefully with bipartisan support, to create an independent, nonpartisan commission, composed of objective experts in health care. Its purpose would be to study the health care systems of other nations that exceed ours in cost effectiveness and health benefits and results.

The commission’s objective would be to identify those components of various health systems that are effective and contribute to the superiority of those systems over ours. The commission would, most likely, combine those elements from disparate systems – some private, some public, some a combination of the two – into recommended legislation for Congress to consider, free from divisive political ideologies that have contributed nothing to improvements of health care.

Spencer Apollonio

Boothbay Harbor