If you don’t believe me that the movement for a SinglePayer healthcare system has come a long way, baby, then believe Ed Koch. He writes that the debate today is between SinglePayer, universal care and universal care run through health insurance companies. Elsewhere, America’s Registered Nurses wish John Edwards had stayed populist on his healthcare policy, the state of Maryland totally whiffs healthcare reform, while medical students and doctors join the fight, and we take a look at the top recipients of political donations from healthcare corporations.
Let’s just step back for a second and realize how far the fight for SinglePayer healthcare has come. The American people want change and the debate now centers around whether or not that will happen while allowing private health insurance corporations to continue to rake their 31% off the top of the care dollars they process. The debate will come to a head this Presidential season, writes Ed Koch:
This year, Democratic presidential candidates will urge the adoption of legislation to provide universal health care, meaning care for the 47 million uninsured Americans as well as everyone else. The biggest debate will be whether to create a single payer system like Canada and Great Britain where the single payer is the government, or a system resembling the prescription drug insurance we now have, with consumers having a choice of private sector insurance companies vying for their business.
Unfortunately we’ve had our first disappointment of the Presidential campaign as John Edwards forgot he was a populist and re-presented Hillary Clinton’s 1993 health care plan in an attempt to placate both insurance companies and healthcare advocates. Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association argues that he should go back to being a populist:
To sum it up, the Edwards plan is a soggy mix-and-match, including tax credits (from Bush), mandates on employers to provide benefits or pay to buy insurance (Schwarzenegger), requirements that individuals buy insurance (Romney and Schwarzenegger) and health market pools for purchasing insurance (Clinton, 1994).
Universal insurance means universally more profits for the industry that has gorged itself off the pain and suffering of others, mostly by denying them care. It is not, however, universal healthcare.
With no controls on premium costs, even many middle-income families will be squeezed into cut-rate, bare bones plans with deductibles of up to $10,000 per family, meaning many will end up paying most for most of their medical expenses out of their pocket on top of their premiums - or simply just forgo using their plans entirely.
The tragedy of this healthcare plan? A “universal medicare” plan would be much smarter politics AND much smarter policy.
DeMoro is joined in her critique by Truthdig reporter Maria Cocco, who calls Edwards’ plan “amnesiac’:
As Clinton did, Edwards seems to believe that you can get the private insurance industry to do something it refuses to do because, in essence, doing what Edwards wants would put the industry out of business. He wants insurers to cover everyone, no matter how sick and expensive they are. He wants employers to continue to carry on their ledgers a cost that is ever more burdensome to them and to their workers, onto whose shoulders more of the health-insurance tab is being shifted.
At least Edwards is trying. Politicians in the state of Maryland aren’t. Here’s their solution for the healthcare crisis that is sickening their residents and dragging down their economy:
The plan relies on $212 million a year from a $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax -- new revenue some lawmakers say would be better used to help erase a projected deficit next year of $1.3 billion.
The Children and Working Families Healthcare Act would use the tobacco money, with millions leveraged from the federal government, to enroll tens of thousands of poor adults in the Medicaid program and offer public and low-cost insurance to moderate-income children. The state also would give subsidies to small businesses that provide coverage for their employees. And about 80,000 workers who can afford insurance but choose not to buy it would be forced to -- or face penalties of up to $2,000 when they file their income tax returns.
A $700 million fund that reimburses hospitals for uncompensated care would shrink as more residents become insured, Hammen said.
We have unstable and regressive funding, government forcing individuals to purchase private health insurance, subsidies that will ultimately go to health care insurers, and cuts in the public health budget. A mess.
As you know the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care. Over the past year or so several forms of "mandated" health care have been proposed: Massachusetts, Gov. Schwarznegger in CA, Wyden, Edwards. I will diary another week on why any "mandate" plan, tried no where else in the world, cannot work well. But for now let's quickly look at all those other systems that really are in place elsewhere.
Well, they all have better quality of care and outcomes than we do. And they control costs better. Also, in this season of "Mandated Health Care Proposals" we are hearing some false comparisons. The oft heard argument that "other countries have multi-payer systems with private insurance" therefore mandates are sorta like that and politically more acceptable... is a total myth.
In a "single-payer" national health insurance system, as demonstrated by Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, health insurance is publicly administeredm but most of the physicians and other health care deliverers are in private practice. Hence, there is a single payer (i.e. the government via taxes) on the COVERAGE side, but many providers and complete competition on the DELIVERY side.
Yesterday, thanks to Opensecrets.org, we looked at the top recipients of donations from the insurance industry. Today we look at who’s taking money from healthcare corporations:
1 Santorum, Rick (R-PA) Senate $1,300,158
2 Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) Senate $1,214,098
3 Johnson, Nancy L (R-CT) House $1,165,058
4 Kyl, Jon (R-AZ) Senate $1,023,168
5 Talent, James M (R-MO) Senate $859,858