Friday, December 26, 2008

Medicare Part "E"

Frank Ford just sent me a terrific article entitled "Establish Medicare Part 'E' for All Americans Under the Age of 65: Keep It Simple President-Elect Obama". Really, the title says it all but here's how the actual article gets started:

In Canada, the universal health care system is simply called medicare -- and that's what it should be in the U.S. And instead of the 1342-page proposal Hillary Clinton put together that was a politically jerry-rigged, confusing plan -- or the Obama proposal that would leave insurance companies pretty much intact (whose goal is to make money by reducing care as much as possible) -- it would be the simplest and boldest political move to simply propose to Congress this sentence to become law: "All Americans under the age of 65 will be covered by Medicare Part 'E.'"

Simplicity is often the most audacious and successful strategy. Since Medicare for seniors became the law in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society," it has become the government program most embraced by Americans. Any Republican or Democrat who would dare run against Medicare risks a landslide defeat at the polls in any statewide or national election.

You can't tinker with a broken, for-profit medical insurance system and make it work.

The Republicans are scared to death that if all Americans were covered by Medicare (with the health insurance companies shoved to the sidelines of supplemental insurance), it would lead to a new confidence in government. In fact, we could be wrong, but we don't know of any government that adopted single-payer medical care and then rolled it back. That is because even when it is flawed, it is wildly popular. Just do a poll among seniors in South Florida. Even Republicans on the West Coast of the Sunshine State love Medicare, as they -- ironically -- denounce "socialized" medicine!

Makes sense to me. A lot of sense. There's something truly immoral - on a demonic level - with a system of "for profit" health care. By definition that means the institution's first responsibility is to the stock holders rather than to the patient.

Think about it.

UPDATE: Here's a comment to the original article that I think deserves attention:

Fix Part D by allowing the government to bargain for drug prices like the VA does and then add Part E. That has my vote. Neither will happen as long as Congress gets its marching orders from Pharma and the insurance companies so I am not holding my breath.

I definitely agree.

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