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.
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.