Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Health Care, Seriously

“Sicko” aside, health care is moving front and center as the domestic issue for Democrats while Republicans still maunder about keeping us safe from terrorists.

A Washington Post headline today sums up their approach: “For Democrats, Pragmatism On Universal Health Care”

It’s a little like saying, “There are burglars in the house, but let’s be cautious about getting them out.”

The burglars are private insurers who take almost one out of every three dollars we spend and give us the most expensive and some of the worst care in the world. But no one wants to get them out, lock the doors and start over.

Whenever good sense enters the debate, lobbyists for the thieves yell “socialized medicine” and politicians duck for cover. But when the rest of America complains about anti-social medicine, they turn deaf.

The situation is neatly summed up by Jonathan Gruber of MIT, who has become, according to the Post, “possibly the party's most influential health-care expert and a voice of realism in its internal debates.” But even the realist knows better.

"Plans which minimize the disruption to the existing system are more likely to succeed than plans that rip up the existing system and start over," said Gruber, a consultant for the three leading Democrats. "It doesn't take a genius to see that. That's not to say that plans ripping it up wouldn't be better--I just think they're political non-starters."

The “non-starters” are variations of a single-payer system which, according to the more than 8,000 physicians who back it, would save $350 billion a year, “enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.”

Opponents raise the terrible specter of a government bureaucracy that would replace the private one that spends so much time and effort finding ways to deny claims rather than facilitate them.

We get most of our mail through “a self-supporting postal corporation wholly owned by the federal government” while those who can afford it use FedEx and other private providers. Why not our medical care? We have the example of Medicare which is far from perfect but works reasonably well for older Americans.

As we gird ourselves for the headache-inducing health care plans of the Presidential candidates, someone should stand up for the “non-starter,” a potential cure that none of them has the courage to propose.


Lynne said...

Democratic voters should keep in mind that Hillary Clinton is, according to The Nation, "the number-one Congressional recipient of donations from the healthcare industry."

Watch 'n Wait said...

Why don't we just simply copy whatever arrangement Canada has? Ed Schultz today said he'd just been in Canada, asked people, and heard not one complaint, but just satisfaction. Seems like everybody here thinks reinventing the wheel is the greatest idea since peanut butter. Sheesh!

Unknown said...

Good post. This is yet another symptom of the pervasive power of money on politics. Our politicians can't take the bold action needed, because they don't want to run afoul of the very crooks who are making our health care system expensive and inadequate. I say throw the insurance industry a bone. Let them sell supplemental insurance while we cover all under a single-payer system. Oops! Queue the scare tactics! "Socialized medicine!" "They want to raise our taxes!" "Waiting lists!" "Won't be able to choose your own doctor" blah blah blah