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.
Regarding the health plan, Edwards said he'd like to end the long patents drug makers get in order to get generics on the market faster. He'd do so with cash payments to the manufacturers. Furthermore, he'd require insurers to spend at least 85% of premiums on patient care. That would cut in half the almost one-third of each premium dollar that currently goes to managing plans and profits. Now, that's some change right there. Edwards said he'd use the Justice Department to enforce that. (Wouldn't that cut into their ideological vetting time?)
I'm still of the opinion that health insurance should be completely separated from employment (Larry Summers thinks so too, and though I'm a girl, I'm smart enough to agree), but this is still good stuff. It's really headed down the right road and not a moment too soon. Edwards acknowledged:
Dealing with the health care crisis is about more than just about coverage. Our health care system is entirely too expensive. We put more money into health care than any country in the industrialized world and we get one of the worst products out in the other end.''
That's true enough, and borne out just this morning by (yet another) Times article. So, I'm down with John. Maybe he's not lighting it up, but he's not as bougie as I thought.