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Forget Public Option -- The Right Direction is Single Payer

Category: Single Payer Health
Posted: 06/16/09 05:43

by Dave Mindeman

It is really disappointing to see the Obama administration fall all over themselves to avoid even the appearance of approving a single payer health plan.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made that clear via NPR:

"This is not a trick. This is not single-payer," Sebelius told Steve Inskeep. She added: "That's not what anyone is talking about ? mostly because the president feels strongly, as I do, that dismantling private health coverage for the 180 million Americans that have it, discouraging more employers from coming into the marketplace, is really the bad, you know, is a bad direction to go."

The bad direction to go is a patchwork of health plans and options that leads to more of the same. And that is where we are going.

The statistics and analysis continue to prove single payer is the best health care option. For cost savings it is single payer. For consistent standards of care it is single payer. For benefits to employers and small business it is single payer. For job transitions and retirement it is single payer. For simplicity, it is single payer.

Yet, the administration will only allow for a public "option". And, even with that, they are so sensitive to the "governement run" critique that Sebelius and other spokespersons go out of their way to make assurances that their plan is NOT a government plan.

Then it will be a problem. It will be complex. And it will probably fail to achieve its main objective.... stop spiraling costs.

The only glimmer of hope I see in the Obama Health plan is that the government option, in whatever form it takes, will serve as a basis for advancement to single payer in the future.

But it is only a glimmer.
comments (1) permalink
06/16/09 18:38

So who do we blame for the lack of a Single Payer Plan ? certainly not Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who along with 27 other Senators are pushing it (note Senator Klobuchar is NOT one of the signers of a resolution calling for the inclusion of federally-backed health insurance option in health care reform) ? certainly not John Conyers (D-MI) who has introduced HR 676 (of the 83 co-sponsors only Minnesotan is Keith Ellison) ? certainly NOT the Republicans who have campaigned against it ? no the blame lies on the Democrats ? and Pelosi needs to be at the top of the list (I give Obama a slight break because I never thought that he was so committed). Pelosi has a responsibility to make sure that if 83 voices want something that it be given a full hearing.

That stated, I know that health care reform is a risky idea ? but the proposals being discussed will cause more political harm than improvement ? bad legislation is bad legislation. Look at Medicare Part D (the Prescription Drug program) ? has ?competition? lowered the costs such that Medicare is flush in cash ? NO. The GOP with Mark Kennedy being one of the swing deciding votes was passed with the idea of Senior Citizens (and us Baby Boomers) would be loyal Republican voters. It has not worked.

Max Baucus (D-MT) has held hearings and denied admittance to advocates of Single Payer ? on May 5 and May 12th he had physicians and nurses expelled ? he has also held private sessions.

Retired Senator Dave Durenberger (that would be a Republican) has long talked that the key is not universal coverage but universal participation. He?s right. My own personal view is that we need a National Sales Tax. I don?t know the number today, but when I calculated in two years ago it would be about 7% ? since most states already collect sales tax, this would be easy to implement. In theory, Republicans extol the virtues of a Flat Tax ?a sales tax that would eliminate the income tax ? they believe that businesses will reduce prices, etc. I do not support a flat tax in lieu of an income tax but a National Health Care Sales Tax could accomplish the same purpose ? universal participation with a funding source. Businesses would see a reduction in employment-benefit costs ... thereby could reduce prices. Self-insured participants would find an immediate reduction as health care insurance premiums would not be neccessary. The 7% sales tax would be negible.



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