Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Health Care in a Sick Economy

As jobs disappear and economic anxiety spreads, the incoming Congress is showing signs of getting serious about health care reform, and the entrenched health insurers are signaling their willingness to negotiate.

Two trade groups, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, are saying they would guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, if they can get a mandate for individual coverage by everyone, sick or well.

This "concession" comes as seven senators responsible for health legislation met yesterday and promised to work together--Democrats Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller IV along with Republicans Michael Enzi, Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch.

The imminent appointment of Tom Daschle as Obama's point man on the issue is another sign that the failing economy is putting more pressure on Washington to create a health care safety net for everyone just as the 1930s produced Social Security for the old.

Without limits on predatory premiums and safeguards against fraud by providers, guaranteed coverage would do nothing to solve the crisis in which one out of every three dollars spent on health is going to insurers' overhead and profits.

But at least the issue is on the table, and the Wall Street Journal is sounding the alarm about a "slow-motion catastrophe" that might "add tens of millions more people to the federal balance sheet. Because the public option will enjoy taxpayer sponsorship, it will offer generous packages to consumers that no private company could ever afford or justify. And because federal officials will run not only the new plan but also the 'market' in which it 'competes' with private programs--like playing both umpire and one of the teams on the field--they will crowd out private alternatives and gradually assume a health-care monopoly."

Sounds something like the approach of a single-payer system, which rational observers have been urging all along, but nothing could be worse than what we have now

1 comment:

health funds said...

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, are saying they would guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions