Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What has happened to single payer?

Now here's a title for you: How Can We Expect an Industry That Profits from Disease and Sickness to Police Itself? That's by Bill Moyers and and Michael Winship and it's worth reading. Here's a sample:

In 2003, a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama told a local AFL-CIO meeting, “I am a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.”

Single payer. Universal. That’s health coverage, like Medicare, but for everyone who wants it. Single payer eliminates insurance companies as pricey middlemen. The government pays care providers directly. It’s a system that polls consistently have shown the American people favoring by as much as two-to-one.
So what’s happened to single payer?

A woman at his town hall meeting in New Mexico last week asked [President Obama] exactly that. “If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense,” the President replied. “That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world.

“The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based health care. And although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their health care, the truth is, is that the vast majority of people currently get health care from their employers and you've got this system that's already in place. We don't want a huge disruption as we go into health care reform where suddenly we're trying to completely reinvent one-sixth of the economy.”

What a let down.

I don't see how we could have any more of a "huge disruption" than we've already had with this year's economic crash. Our health care system is an inefficient behemoth. It needs to be disrupted.

UPDATE: Here's a comment to the above article that I think is really good:

Here's my plan for getting Congress motivated to actually represent their constituents for a change.

How can they possibly represent us when they don't have a clue what our lives are like? How can they possibly understand what dealing with the U.S. "health"-"care" system is like when they've all got state-of-the-art insurance?

Solution #1: Figure out what percentage of the U.S. population is uninsured and what percentage underinsured. These percentages will be applied to members of Congress. The insured, underinsured, and uninsured will be determined by lot.

Solution #2: The salary for each representative and senator will be no more than the median income of his/her constituents.

I bet we'd have some reform PDQ, and probably some better-qualified candidates for higher office.

I bet so too.

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