March 6, 2010

Single payer now ... or in 2017? If in 2017, why not now?

As reported by Ryan Grim at Huffington Post, at his recent meeting with House progressives about the health insurance regulation bill that was supposed to be a health care bill,
"Obama pointed Kucinich toward single-payer language that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was able to get into the bill. Kucinich fought for an amendment that would allow states to adopt single-payer systems without getting sued by insurance companies. Obama told Kucinich that Sanders's measure was similar but doesn't kick in for several years.
Section 1332 does indeed allow for states to establish a single-payer insurance system -- in 2017!

But many states are ready to implement such systems right now. Why the wait, if it's such a good thing?

Instead, Obama is fighting hard to criminalize not having health insurance, to force people to buy an expensive and mostly worthless product to protect the profits of private insurance companies. Just like with the collapse of the home mortgage market, he is opting to spend a trillion dollars to save the robber barons and to sweep crumbs to their victims.

I say it is a worthless product, because, as Michael Moore's film Sicko showed, having insurance doesn't mean very much when you actually need it. The majority of people who have insurance and are satisfied with it most likely have not experienced anything catastrophic yet.

(Single-payer [e.g., Medicare in the U.S.] aside, that is actually not as common in other countries as one might think. It is the system in Canada, and in Great Britain they also have socialized delivery of care [e.g., the Veterans Administration in the U.S.]. Most countries, however, simply recognized the conflict between profit and health care and so removed that aspect for universal care. That's called "people before profits", or representational democracy. A government that puts business before people is called "fascist". For a good overview of several systems around the world, see T.R. Reid's The Healing of America.)

A Harvard Medical School study estimated that 45,000 people die in the U.S. each year because of lack of insurance. Forcing them into worthless plans that they can't afford isn't going to help. To apply the words of John Kerry's 1971 speech about Vietnam to our current for-profit work-linked health insurance system,
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? ... We are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership?
Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee wrote in response to Ryan Grim's article:
Obama is telling America, "No, we can't." But we've been showing more and more each day, "Yes, we can" pass the public option. If President Obama doesn't think the votes exist in the Senate, he needs to name which senators would oppose it. If he can't or won't, there's no reason for House progressives to be part of the White House's loser mentality.
Hear, hear! Waiting until 2017 for state-run single-payer is bullshit, and health insurance reform without a nonprofit public option is bullshit.