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More on Health Care

Tuesday I received an email from a friend telling me that she has signed on as a supporter of John Edwards's health care plan.  Would I do the same?  Hmmmm.  No.  How can it be called a plan for universal health care when it is simply a patchwork of measures that seeks to extend coverage to the 47 million Americans who are currently uninsured.  That's nice, but it isn't universal coverage, coverage that one can count on through job loss and, God forbid, an actual illness.  Sure, his plan contains a provision that, the New York Times reports, has the potential to be the basis of a single-payer system that might someday make private insurance obsolete, but it doesn't actually do any of that outright.  Why is it so hard to separate health insurance from employment and turn our backs on the private insurance companies that eats one-third of all health-care dollars? 

Truthout reports that a bill written by Rep. John Conyers creating a single-payer, universal system has the support of 225 labor organizations.  Now there's a plan I could get behind.  Progressives need to seize this moment and make clear that we don't need the same old debate one more time.  We need coverage, for all of us, and soon.  As Edwards's form email put it, "The whole idea is that we're all responsible – responsible for our national health care system, and responsible for building the popular support we need to make it happen."  Sing it.  Let's start at HK on J.  See you there.

8 Comments

  1. Dallas Woodhouse

    February 6, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    I have a question for you liberals. I really wonder this:

    Do you think that a person of wealth should be able to buy a higher quality healthcare than a person of moderate or low income?

    I really wonder if part of this is not only getting the poor healthcare but making sure rich people can not use their money to buy better healthcare.

  2. sturner

    February 7, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Dallas,
    Here is what you don’t get. The American-style free-market healthcare system is a failure from a public health standpoint. For individuals, it can perform very well.
    I’ll make you a deal. If you will support my mandatory universal health coverage, I will support an exemption for you to purchase additional healthcare. So, if you want to build a (non-tax deductible) surgical suite in your basement next to your home theatre, with Mayo Clinic trained staff on retainer…well go ahead. In fact, I suggest you get a group of investors (culled from the list of President Bush’s Pioneers and Rangers) and start the Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand Hospital System. You can seamlessly fold Dr. Frist’s Tenet Healthcare into your investment, as you are likely to find your corporate philosophies compatible.
    So, do we have a deal?

  3. Greg Flynn

    February 7, 2007 at 8:56 am

    There is a large slice of the middle class pie chart that has little or no medical insurance. Small businesses can little afford the direct cost and administrative responsibilities of health plans with large and volatile premiums of the tiny insurance pools that currently exist even with high deductibles.

    These pools shrink to isolate people with medical needs into high premium pools while offering unsustainably low initial premiums to attract new customers to low expense pools.

    A universal system spreads the risks and the rewards across a large pool. It does not prevent anyone from buying their own insurance from the private sector if they can afford it and if the private sector can refrain from the premium shell game. A universal system can also allow for wellness programs and case management that lower costs.

  4. Andrea V

    February 7, 2007 at 11:45 am

    What I don’t understand, Dallas, is where you got the idea that I’m advocating a system in which “rich people can not [sic] use their money”. Believing that everyone deserves access to health care is not the same as saying that everyone should get the same exact care.

    Moreover, in our current insurance-driven health care delivery system, even people with insurance, and the money to pay for it, must pay a lot for what often turns out to be over-managed, mediocre care. But, hey, if you think it’s important that “a person of wealth” (never heard it that way before) keep paying too much for insurance that probably doesn’t even cover them adequately, good luck with that.

  5. gregflynn

    February 7, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    “Houston, we have a problem”

    From the Triangle Business Journal:

    Gripes about health care topped the list of the top 10 consumer complaints received by the North Carolina attorney general’s office in 2006.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday that more than 5,000 consumers filed complaints about health insurance, doctors, dentists, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care outfits in 2006.

    Telemarketers and complaints regarding the federal “Do Not Call” list finished in a distant second place, with about 2,025 consumer complaints.

    Also at NCDOJ.com

  6. [...] If you are an Incrementalist, you favor a policy of making changes by degrees; or gradualism. If you are a Maximalist, then you favor a direct and immediate approach to achieve a goal in its entirety. Of course, as a realist would argue, the political feasibility of a policy may influence which approach you support.   Andrea favors a maximalist approach, while Adam accepts that incremental gains are more realistic over the short-term.  Even though I’ve worked in primary care for the past 20 years, I am still on the fence as to which approach has the greater likelihood of success.  My heart tells me we ought to pursue a single payer system now.  The need is immediate, and the political climate is more favorable now than it has been in 12 years.  My head tells me that our trillion dollar healthcare system, which consumes 16% of GDP, has too many people, making too much money, with too many political connections to allow radical changes.   [...]

  7. Dallas Woodhouse

    February 7, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts. I have some serious health issues and working for good health coverage is part what I have to do in life. I do not want to have a drop in quality of my care to cover others.

  8. [...] I know that long ago, way back in the winter, I wrote that John Edwards' health plan left me cold.  Not radical enough for me (what is?), I didn't think it went far enough because it doesn't call for a universal system immediately.  Schooled by Steve Turner, I gave a little and started to see the wisdom of incrementalism, to use Steve's term.  Today, I admit that I'm really becoming an Edwards fan, health plan and all.  You can read more about the details Edwards offered today in Detroit here and more about the campaign generally here.  Surprising as it is to me, I truly admire Edwards and his drive to do something about poverty in this land of plenty. [...]