Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fix me, fix you. Let's all kick in.

Jane Bryant Quinn has about the best one-page article I've seen on how we can get health care for everybody. A 'recommended read'.

I do agree that we can't afford to cover everyone under the crazy health-care system we have now. We can't even afford all the people we're covering already, which is why we keep booting them out. But we have an excellent template for universal care right under our noses: good old American Medicare. When you think of reform, think "Medicare for all."

Medicare is what's known as a single-payer system. In the U.S. version, the government pays for health care delivered in the private sector. There's one set of comprehensive benefits, with premiums, co-pays and streamlined paperwork. You can buy private coverage for the extra costs.

Health insurers hate this model, which would end their gravy train. So they're trying to tar single-payer as a kind of medical Voldemort, ready to destroy. Here are some of their canards, and my replies:

She de-canards them beautifully. Go see.

Right now, Congress is trying to bring 3.3 million uninsured children into the State Children's Health Insurance Program. President George W. Bush says he'll veto the expansion as "the wrong path for our nation." He objects to "government-run health care" (like Medicare?) and says that SCHIP "deprives Americans of ... choice" (like the choice to go uninsured?). Buzzwords like "government run" are supposed to summon up monsters like "socialized medicine" that apparently still lurk under our beds. If these terror tactics work, prepare for another 46 million uninsured.

Since we're about 27th in health care amongst the top 25 industrial (read "modern" or "first-world" or even "white") nations, the time has come to treat it as a utility like gas or electric, or at least like something we're all entitled to, not just those who can afford it.

The time for health-care-for-profit is past. Greed and profit as determinants of who gets well or not, who lives and who dies because of money or the lack of it, is unconscionable and should be relegated to the scrap heap of failed scams. Big MediCo will go out kicking and screaming, but go it must and go it will. My suggestion? Earplugs.

I hope the stockholders in health care related companies take a moment when they're admiring their dividend checks, or the Wall St. numbers on how rich they're becoming, that folks have died to get them that money. Fat chance. When they get left holding the bag, I'll have no sympathy for them.

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