09 February 2008

FL's Ben Graber & single-payer

Ben Graber, MD, is running a sleepy campaign against six-term Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler in Florida. Congressional Quarterly reports that Graber only raised $700 in the last quarter of 2007 -- unlikely to be enough to unseat an incumbent.

His lack as a candidate makes for bitter reading when compared to his good sense in health care reform. In an opinion piece in the Sun Sentinel, Graber writes, "A wise person once said, 'There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.' A single-payer health plan is that idea."

Here's are his talking points:
  • Expand Medicare to include people 55 to 64 years old, veterans and the chronically ill.
  • Eliminate the need for any HMO involvement in regular Medicare by stabilizing premiums. This is accomplished by providing a formula for a much expanded and reduced-risk population.
  • Offer an affordable premium until age 74 and then freeze the premium at age 75 and beyond.
  • Enhance the Medicare D program by eliminating the doughnut hole and negotiating with pharmaceutical companies worldwide for a bulk discount on medications.
  • Remove research and development costs from the price determinator and offer independent U.S. research grants.
  • Incorporate the Veterans Health Administration into Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Fund Medicaid premiums for those below the poverty line — 75 percent by the federal government and 25 percent by the states.
  • Develop Medicare and Medicaid buy-in programs to expand the single-payer system to all ages, including children.
  • Place premiums for small businesses and individuals on a sliding scale based on the ability to pay.
  • Change annually based on individual financial circumstances.
  • Utilize existing infrastructure, saving billions in conversion costs.
  • Allow insurers to participate, but in a new capacity as facilitators, product enhancers and recruiters.
This phased-in approach may have a better shot than HR676.

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