"Everybody knows the insurance companies make money by not providing care." - Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Oct. 30, 2007
"[The Republicans] don't get that a family of four making $50,000 a year can't pay $20,000 a year for healthcare ... they don't get the reality of it." - Sen. Claire McCaskill, Oct. 18, 2007
Democrats "have got to embrace Medicaid and Medicare," which puts the Republicans in the position of "opposing what your mother's on." - Gov. Howard Dean, Oct. 19, 2007
Last night's debate had at least Kucinich embracing Medicare for all. I think that's a good way to talk about it. We already have the government infrastructure for Medicare. It alarms absolutely no one, except for Republicans who worry it might prove that government can work to make people's lives better.
Dean's suggestion on the 19th was a little more modest than Kucinich's. "I wouldn't do the whole thing at once," he said, because "Americans want change, but they never want as much as they say they want." He proposed lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 55, and expanding Medicaid to cover everyone 30 and under. That way, he said, you'd take care of the auto and steel industry on one end and every parent's worries on the other.
I'd like to see universal healthcare at once, but Dean's proposal would at least solve a lot of problems. It would give the insurance companies a last place to stand while the public gets used to the idea of not needing them at all. Because as nyceve has pointed out many times, insurance coverage isn't the same as healthcare.
Even mandatory insurance that providers had to let you into isn't the same as healthcare. What happens? They can still lower their payouts, deny claims, second guess your doctor, interfere in your medical decisions, keep you from choosing the doctors you want and generally make life hell.
But I'd trust any of the Democrats to do a better job of fixing our healthcare system than any of the Republicans. I don't even have to think about it, I just have to look at recent history. The Democrats propose things like the popular S-CHIP care package for kids and they fully fund the bill. The Republicans put together inefficient, unfunded, needlessly expensive boondoggles like Medicare Part D. Need I say more?
We all know that the real crisis isn't how society is going to pay for Social Security. It's how society is going to pay for the loss of life and productivity caused by our very broken care delivery system. Listen to Prof. Vincente Navarro of Johns Hopkins, who spoke in 2003 about the inhuman state of U.S. healthcare, emphasis mine:
The most credible estimate of the number of people in the United States who have died because of lack of medical care was provided by a study carried out by Professors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler (New England Journal of Medicine 336, no. 11 ). They concluded that almost 100,000 people died in the United States each year because of lack of needed care—three times the number of people who died of AIDs. It is important to note here that while the media express concern about AIDs, they remain almost silent on the topic of deaths due to lack of medical care. Any decent person should be outraged by this situation. How can we call the United States a civilized nation when it denies the basic human right of access to medical care in time of need? No other major capitalist country faces such a horrendous situation.
But the problem does not end here, with the uninsured. An even larger problem is the underinsured, that is, people whose health benefits coverage is inadequate. Most people find, at a crucial moment in their lives when they really need care, that their health insurance coverage does not include the type of medical problem they have, the type of intervention they need, or the type of tests or pharmaceuticals they require—or, that it covers only a minute portion of what must be paid for the services. We, as Americans, are the citizens with the least amount of health benefits coverage in the western world. ...
Do you think the situation has gotten better since that 1997 study? Yeah, me neither. Not with many recent years seeing double digit premium increases that have forced business after business to downgrade or drop coverage, and many individuals to have to just hope they don't get sick.
Vote for the Democrat in 2008. The lives of 100,000 or more of our fellow citizens depend on it every year.