USA Today on Health Care in 2007


Fire as Pure Stochastic Patterns


The USA Today
gives a nice round-up of the Health Care issues that MIGHT come before the feds. The article reminds me of a comment I read somewhere, the person said that they read the paper shaking their heads saying "We've been talking about that online for weeks." So it is with this story. The focus of this story is the Ron Wyden bill for "universal health care" that will be introduced in January.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Wyden, getting a jump on his fellow lawmakers, outlined an ambitious plan last week that he says will guarantee all Americans health insurance similar to what Congress now gets, and save money at the same time.

...

Wyden's plan would rely on private insurers to offer coverage that is at least as comprehensive as one of the standard plans now offered federal employees, require all Americans to buy it and tax employers to help pay for it.

Really, all you need to understand is the highlighted part of this sentence. Now, the Committee to Defend Health Care doesn't take a position on specific plans, we think the question before us is whether Health Care is a right or a privilege. If it is a right, then it is up to the state to figure out how to cover everyone, just as they must figure out how to educate all children because THAT was declared a right in the last century.

However, I am a firm believer in single-payer. Health care is the worst possible commodity to privatize. Hell, privatize the roads before you privatize someone's LIFE. The Wyden plan has some short-term solutions that make it likely wages would increase at the same time that health care benefits would be pawned off on other sources. However, there is no long-term solution, so that after two years the onus is on the individual to find and purchase insurance. From Physicians for a National Health Plan, our "umbrella" organization.

Whether through union efforts or in the open job market, compensation is negotiated, at least theoretically. That includes wages and often health benefits and pensions. It does not include food. It does not include housing. It does not include transportation. It does not include any other basic needs. Those needs fall under the category of personal responsibility - use your wages wisely to meet those needs.

Now health care is shifted away from being considered as part of the compensation package, over into this realm of personal responsibility.

Have wages kept up with the costs of basic needs? There certainly has been a redistribution from wage earners to the wealthy. The minimum wage has not been increased for many years. Consumer debt continues to expand. Personal savings are now a negative. Personal insolvency continues to grow. Yet employers are not providing wage increases that are indexed to food, nor to housing, nor to transportation. Now that they are no longer in charge of health coverage, they will feel no obligation to index wages to health costs either.

minerminor
Can you imagine a world where the conservatives won the battle on primary education? Where each of us was responsible for paying the costs for our kids to attend school and the government did NOTHING to regulate it? How do you think that would look? Do you think we would be the powerhouse nation we are today? Would brilliant physicists, engineers, doctors, and businessmen have emerged from the working class in this system? Would Homer Hickman have had the money to complete school in Coalwood, WV or would he have become just another black-lung victim as in the previous century? Heck, would John Edwards have gone on to become a successful lawyer and politician, or would he have ended up as just another urchin in the textile mills of the south?

Yet, that is where we stand now with "health insurance", where untold millions of people have languished with no health care since the defeat of Health Care For All in the 1940s, which lead to Medicare for the elderly.

The Wyden plan is a failure, and the best way to know this for sure is that the corporate-friendly USA Today features it broadly in its article, but does not mention the Conyers Resolution 676 AT ALL.

United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act) - Establishes the United States National Health Insurance Program (the Program) to provide all individuals residing in the United States and in U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, prescription drugs, emergency care, and mental health services.

This is the kind of program that every other first-world country has in place, paid for in different ways, but in PLACE. Countries like Sweden pay for a national health care plan through taxes, and their per capita expenses are 67% of what we pay now!!! That is to insure everyone in their country, we leave 48 million uninsured and 17 million underinsured by paying more!!!

Don't forget, that a recent study suggested that 2/3, or 66%, of our current health care spending comes from public money of one sort or another. Thus, we are already spending enough tax and subsidy money to have a universal health care system equivalent to that of Sweden.

I urge you all at this time to go NOW and email your Representatives, or a Democratic Representative near where you live. Tell them you want North Carolina Democrats to co-sponsor House Resolution 676, which currently has 77 Democratic co-sponsors.

Later this week, I will be posting a diary on the actions that will be addressed by the Committee to Defend Health Care in the upcoming legislative session. There are some good bills on the table and that might be submitted this session to move health care in the right direction.

Comments

Action: Email your legislators

I didn't mark this as an Action Diary, because I didn't realize that was where it was headed. Sometimes these things take on a life of their own.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

legislator, congressmen, whatever.

sometimes my brain hurts keeping track of all the "titles"

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

posted on kos

with some changes

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

it's about outcomes

Hi there. Kari Chisholm here. You may know me as the guy behind BlueOregon.com, LeftyBlogs.com, and WesternDemocrat.com.

Anyway, I've been helping Senator Wyden do some netroots organizing for his universal health care proposal - and I thought I'd pipe in here. (Please note: I don't speak for the Senator, and any errors are my own.)

Personally, I support single-payer AND I support Wyden's plan. I'll support any plan that gets us universal coverage; a comprehensive benefit package; reduces cost to low-income people and to taxpayers; doesn't discriminate on the basis of age, gender, pre-existing conditions.

And progressives should support any plan that gets us there, even if its not your personal favorite plan.

I don't think it's necessary to pit the Wyden plan against single-payer. That's an argument between friends.

The reality is that both single-payer and the Wyden plan will face opposition from right-wing ideologues and the insurance industry. And if progressives spend their time and energy fighting about which universal health care plan looks better, we won't get any plan at all.

Let me suggest that you check out some of the commentary from folks you'll recognize as well-known progressive activists:

David Sirota, the author of Hostile Takeover, blogged about the Wyden plan here.

Ezra Klein, the health care policy wonk at the American Prospect, blogged about it here and here and here. In particular, I'll quote this one piece:

BUT IS IT GOOD ENOUGH? Lot of interesting feedback on the Wyden plan, some of which I want to explore a little further. But first, I want to ask a question: Can anybody truly see Congress passing a piece of legislation and a president signing a bill that, in one stroke of the pen, dissolves Aetna, UnitedHealthGroup, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, and all the rest? We're talking about the full dissolution of multibillion dollar corporations that employ thousands and thousands of people, contribute heavily to a wide swath of politicians and provide massive tax revenues to a large collection of states, and have been the sole providers of health coverage for nearly a century now. Forget whether you, or I, think their demolition would be a good idea: Do you see it as a possibility?

I've tried to imagine it. Believe me, I have. But I can't. Not in the near-term, anyway. Which why I'm somewhat unimpressed by demands that Democratic proposals start from a single-payer stance and condemns any that don't as "signal[ing] a sell-out by the Democratic congressional leadership." Politics is the art of the possible, and so long as the health system is genuinely harming millions of Americans, the perfect can't continually be the enemy of the good -- the question must be whether what's achievable is good enough.

That said, insurers are a problem. But what you can't destroy, you may be able to reform. That's the strategy of the Wyden plan.

Anyway, I'll stop here. There's lots more commentary over at Stand Tall For America -- and if you decide you want to support the plan (or just keep an eye on us) c'mon over and sign up.

Thanks!

karichisolm, thanks for stopping by

Thanks for the information and thanks for the invitation. I'm sure you'll have a group heading over to sign up. I agree we need to keep from fighting between "friends". The insurance lobby is pretty powerful, so whichever plan we choose to put forward needs to be the best plan that makes the most sense so we can get the most folks behind it to do battle. I don't know which plan that is, so I guess I need to do a little bit of reading on the subject.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Ditto

What SD said. Thanks.

____________________________________

We are not amused.

Thanks for cutting and pasting this comment from Kos.

Like I said there, I'm willing to look into the Wyden plan deeper, which is what I'm doing tonight.

However, I can already tell you:

  1. I don't like a plan that relies on private insurance, then tells the customers to "demand lower cost insurance". Just ask folks paying $3000 a month for self-employed insurance because they have a preexisting condition how that works.
  2. I don't like a plan that takes money through taxes, but then requires you to continue paying copays, deductibles, and coinsurance.
  3. I don't like a plan that has a $4000 catastrophic illness deductible, because that does little to alleviate the 50% of bankruptcies that are due to health care, other than allowing the insurance companies to increase that persons premiums.

That is just off the top of my head.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Just a reminder.

We already pay enough in taxes and "subsidies" to have a national health care plan in place. That would mean no monthly premiums beyond taxes, no copays, no deductibles, no coinsurance, no plans to chose from, no paperwork to wrestle, no "signing up" and choosing between plans. You go to the doctor, you get your care, you sign something, you leave.

We already pay enough to have this for every individual in America, we just don't get it. Instead we line the roosts of the insurance companies.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Abortion services.

I like that you can buy a "supplmental plan" to cover abortion services. There are so many things wrong with that I can't even begin to discuss it.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me