Who should King Barack Hussein Obama go after when we are done gutting private health insurance companies and turning their mostly middle class employees out on to American streets?
How about pharmaceutical companies or those evil government contractors? Why not the petrochemical industry followed by food manufacturers and then General Electric? There are some financial institutions who could still use a lesson in manners after the TARP-funded gluttony they just threw in our face. If we tried hard enough, I bet we could spin up enough populist rage to kill all the companies we allowed to get out of control over the past few decades though short-sighted government policies, lack of meaningful regulation and pathological voter disinterest.
I say we start with King Corn.
Then again, unregulated private companies have long been a blight on the American landscape in one way or another, so it seem to me that the answer isn’t to shut private health insurers down anymore than it was to shut those other industries down when We The People finally tired of their privations. The answer is to harness corporate America via consistent regulation and make them provide for our common needs by enforcing those common sense rules like every other modern industrialized nation has done or is currently trying to do.
Encountering many of the same problems we face today, most universal health care systems around the world went with a public-private hybrid more often than simply replacing private health insurance with a national single payer plan. In fact, the legislation being crafted on Capital Hill right now has many of the same properties as some of the most successful medical systems in the world. It is far from perfect, but it seems to make a good faith effort at reforming our system into something much more equitable and sustainable than what we currently have, even with Blue Dogs and Moderate Republicans involved.
I still wonder why Medicare-for-All isn’t gaining traction with the American public when it aims to solve the same problems as what is “on the table” in Congress, especially when Medicare itself is so popular on the left and right. Perhaps advocating a heart lung transplant as the only course of treatment when diet and exercise might do the trick is a bit extreme for most Americans.
I have many concerns with House Resolution 676 as it is currently written. Not only does it fail to address the underlying fact that Medicare is unsustainable as it exists today, the legislation also requires that every provider of medical services in the country that would be covered under the plan be public or nonprofit. Look at Section 103 of the bill for the exact wording, but let me repeat the summary of that section for those who missed it two sentences ago. Not only does HR 676 kill the private insurance companies that many Americans still support to varying degrees, it requires all medically-related companies covered under our new single payer system become public or non-profit entities within 15 years of enactment.
That fact alone makes it a non-starter for most Americans who are not safely ensconced on the Looking Glass Left.
There is serious doubt the government could pull off national single payer in any form much less as written in the Medicare-for-All bill. Beyond the poorly constructed legislation itself – which basically waves a magic wand and hopes the assumptions of wholesale replacement of the existing system will work despite many objective objections – the lack of performance of the US government at just about every level for as long as I can remember gives me serious qualms with throwing all our health care dollars into one leaky basket. Our most successful national efforts in recent years have been small private efforts funded with public dollars. Funds put into research and development or nonprofit social causes have had huge returns for each dollar invested.
The inverse is not true.
Bigger budgets in government lead to more corruption and not less. The Defense Department is one example but there are many others. All are riddled with piss-poor contract management leading to wide-spread fraud, waste and abuse of public funds that has led to an unprecedented lack of faith in the US government on the left and right. The health insurance system we have is bad enough as the operating budgets are scattered among dozens of entities with differing strategies and tactics. Put it all in one place and it becomes easier to loot the system. Look at the Medicare link above as an example of the single largest insured population in America getting snookered daily by medical providers and drug companies, no matter how much the people on Medicare like it.
Medicare and the rest of the government health programs have been around for decades and have gotten steadily less sustainable with the exception of the military health care system. It is not a money thing with Medicare, though, or an ideology thing. Medicare spends plenty of cash and members of both parties love it, but it remains unsustainable because it leaks like a sieve and flows out into the broken foundations of our health care system to combine with all the rest of our myriad of symptoms, flooding the federal budget with red ink. The ten-year cost projections from HHS don’t look promising, so Medicare remains a fatal flaw in our current system that must be addressed.
America can take excess profit out of health care and not kill private insurance companies in the process.
We can implement strict health insurance regulation, set expectations for a minimum allowable plan with a set price and draconian enforcement of those standards. We can fix our existing system using smart strategies that seek to reconcile private businesses with public interests. Maybe this initial legislation leads to a nonprofit health insurance system as being the only sustainable method of paying for universal health care in America. Something more like the Dutch or the Swiss system. This would also cure our Medicare problem because we fixed private insurance to the point that it could be trusted with the public needs.
We could also create an sustainable “public option” that brings together all the various and sundry public plans (Medicare/Medicaid, SCHIP, TRICARE, VA, federal workers, etc.) into a single Americare public insurance plan with significant medical delivery infrastructure in all fifty states via the military and VA. It would combine cost centers to achieve huge immediate savings and would eventually lead to a significant bargaining position to bring down overall health provider and pharmaceutical costs with nearly 100 million Americans as members when one includes small businesses, the self employed and the uninsured.
If private companies find a fair and equitable system is not conducive to a profit-driven board of directors, then I suspect most will go into a new line of business or they will become non profits.
This would maintain the public-private hybrid we currently have by using government regulations to eliminate or reduce our worst problems in order to create a sustainable medical system and would be supported by most moderate conservatives and independents who agree the system is desperately in need of significant reform. A reformed medical system of this nature would be one that everyone in America supports and defends against private interests in years to come instead of just the liberal wing of the democratic party. We get the ends we require without using a single payer solution that many Americans don’t seem to support in its current form.
At any rate, President Obama has done exactly what he campaigned on with regards to this particular subject, which is more than most presidents can say over the last four decades.
I wish Barack had advocated for a more innovative solution to the problem instead of leaving it up to the democratic caucus. I believe he could have gone straight to the American people and built support for an efficient and effective strategy that might not have included a single payer solution, but would have been a straight kick in the ass to the private insurance industry and serve as the first positive step forward in decades for health care reform. Going to Congress on this one ensured the process would lead to something less than ideal.
Same thing he did with the stimulus debate.
Health reform more properly belonged as part of that debate because of the role it plays in our crumbling economy and ballooning debt. The military should have been in there as well. I think a lot of people on the left and right were looking for Obama to be bold and progressive and innovative, but not necessarily “liberal” as his base would define it. Barack’s learning curve is in full view as the administration continues to set unreasonable deadlines for these complex and interrelated issues. It makes conservatives feel like he is trying to pull a fast one. The same way it made liberals feel when Ronnie and Newt and George Junior did it to them over the last three decades.
By building on his brilliant campaign strategy and using the gains he made with moderate republicans and independents, the country could have spent the last six months talking about what a New New Deal and a Greater Society might look like with President Obama signing legislation at the end of the summer that was overwhelming supported by both houses and parties as well as the American people. Kind of like this landmark bill, more than fifty years past. Our last real moment of political unity in America. On second thought, I believe this was the last time we saw such political unity in Congress.
I think passing systemic, significant and sustainable health care reform can be the next unifying theme to bring a fractured nation together.
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