21 June 2009

Americans support a public option

A New York Times/CBS News poll shows overwhelming support for a public option - 72 percent of all those polled were in favor, with 20 percent opposed and 7 percent clueless.
Half of Republicans were in favor (39 percent opposed).
87 percent of Dems were in favor! (9 percent opposed).
73 percent of Independents were in favor (22 percent opposed).

And yet Senate Dems are not on board.

What is wrong with this picture?

Contact your senators! Here's an Howard Dean petition - there are others as well.

16 June 2009

Public Option Good Politics

Robert Creamer has an article at Huffington Post on Four Reasons Why Giving Consumers Is Great Politics.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
He cites the popularity of such a program:
In a poll taken earlier this year by Lake Research, 73% of respondents favored a health plan that gives them the choice between a private plan or a public health insurance plan. Only 15% preferred to have only the choice of a private plan. And the preference for a choice between public and private health insurance plans extends across all demographic and partisan groups, including Democrats (77%), Independents (79%) and Republicans (63%).
According to an NPR report, "Republicans argue that upward of 100 million Americans would opt out of private insurance in favor of a public plan if such a plan were available."

And yet the story is being spun that Congress would never pass such a thing. Haven't we gotten to the point where nearly everyone understands that our healthcare system sucks, that other countries do it better, and that they do it better because there's a government guarantee of healthcare?

04 June 2009

Lincoln was for govt-financed health care

James Nowlan, a Republican at the University of Chicago, has a column in today's Chicago Tribune. It's notable both for what it says and what it doesn't say.
"Abraham Lincoln declared that government should do only that which the people cannot do so well for themselves -- defense, highways, public safety, education. And government has done a good job of fulfilling this compact with the public. In recent decades, we have been adding health care to the compact, in increments: first the elderly with Medicare, then the poor, and more recently, children, both through Medicaid. If you're not in one of these categories, you scramble for health care. Everyone in my rural area hustles to find the shelter of health-care coverage. Farmers' wives take jobs at the school in town -- for health coverage for the family. Whenever a job change is contemplated, the biggest question is: 'Will there be benefits [health coverage]?'"
Nowlan addresses the irreconcilable tension between Americans believing that their taxes are too high and at the same time believing that the government should make sure everyone has health care.

Then, as if he can't quite help himself, he points out that Medicaid and Medicare are the biggest chunk of government expenditures on health care - something that is misleading because it doesn't note the other government expenditures on health care, such as the tax breaks for companies that provide health insurance and the cost of paying for private insurance for all municipal, county, state, and federal workers, including the military.

He notes that the cost of Medicare and Medicaid have gone up 7 percent a year, "far outstripping inflation," without noting that the rate of increase of private insurance puts Medicare and Medicaid increases in the dust.

Even so, the quote from Lincoln was nice. The experience of other industrialized democracies fairly proves that government does a better job of managing health care financing than does the private sector. (If, of course, you factor in health of the population as being at all important. If you're willing to write off a substantial portion of your work force - the Darwinian cost of doing business - then our system clearly is more profitable and therefore better, capitalistically speaking.)

Then again the right has so vilified the competence of the American government that it's possible that people think that whereas the Swedish or German or Taiwanese government can competently manage health care financing, our own government cannot.

The question then becomes "Why does the right wing hate America?"

03 June 2009

Baucus says he shouda listened

Well yeah. Politico reports that "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told leading advocates of a government-financed health care system that he made a mistake by not giving their proposals more consideration in the reform debate, according to participants in a meeting Wednesday."

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a single-payer supporter, arranged the meeting with David Himmelstein, MD, and others.
Those involved in the health care negotiations say single payers have been elevated precisely because Baucus excluded them. Baucus has been able keep almost every interest group involved in the process from speaking out against the ideas under consideration. But because they are not involved, single payers have been one of the only vocal constituencies hammering away at Baucus.

The virtual shut-out has emboldened the movement.

After being left off the invite list for the White House health care forum in March, single payer advocates alerted the media and won a seat at the table. They disrupted each of the Finance Committee’s three roundtables on health care in April and May.