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"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 [1997]). 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.

Originally posted to natasha on Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 11:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great Article (0+ / 0-)

    I love HR 676, but my biggest fear is that it will be used by the radical right wing to get themselves reelected. If the dems take over and their first agenda is to impove a massive government program that requires a 1 trillion tax hike and takes away choice (choice from what exactly, to be denied care by blue cross?) they will savage it and it could be a political disaster in 2010 or 2012.

    I agree with Paul Krugman that we should have a plan where medicare competes with private insurance. Since medicare spends far less on administration and nothing on profits it will be cheaper. So over time people will shift to medicare. He said 'don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good'. We need UHC & a patients bill of rights immediately but its best to slowly shift into single payer healthcare (and save $400 billion a year in overhead and negotiations) rather than pursue it all at once. Doing so could lead to another 1994 disaster.

    At the same time lowering eligibility via 'buy-ins' at 55+ and allowing those 25 and under to get into medicare sound like a great idea.

    ALso, I think we need to take advantage of the buying power of medicare if we start doing this. If we start covering 100 million people in medicare around 2010, we need to let medicare negotiate prices for services, equipment and drugs. That'll make it even cheaper than private insurers.

  •  Medicaid (0+ / 0-)

    unfortunately, unlike Medicare, is in many states simply public funding for private health insurance. My experience with it in Maryland was disastrous and ruined my credit to this day because it failed to pay for things that were supposed to have been covered. Medicare for all would be good; Medicaid, while better than nothing, simply feeds the beast.

    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by kyril on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 03:19:09 AM PDT

  •  Add to the 100,000 dead for lack of care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    another 200,000 dead because of the quality of the care, then divide this total by 2 to get an average value for the past 59 years since we rejected Socialized Medicine in 1948, and then multiply this by those 59 years and you have 8,850,000 deaths.

    That is one and a half holocausts all in the name of enriching the Health Care Industry.

    And we get all this by paying twice the average of the civilized world.

    And we are afraid to say the words


    Socialized Medicine.

    Well your Police and fire protection is Socialized, your criminal justice system and your tort court systems are Socialized.

    Your Tax Collection system is Socialized.

    There are some things that the Government just naturally does better than private industry ever can.

    And Health Care is one of them.

    It is time to stop killing our citizens because we are afraid of a word.

  •  Right now medicare ain't so great (0+ / 0-)

    It's better than nothing but early on Bushco Repugs cut back a lot of payouts to doctors etc., and it's getting harder and harder to find doctors who will take new medicare patients.

    There was a lot of fraud, but I don't think the repugs really cared about that. They want everything privatized.

    Socialized medicine/Medicare is the US's best option, but now we have to get the Doctors' support back in line for it as they have been spoiled the past few years with so many perks from big Pharma corps and private Insurance companies and HMOs.

    How do we get the doctors' support for medicare back?

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

    by roseeriter on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:56:45 AM PDT

  •  I'd go for Howard's 55+ except that (0+ / 0-)

    I'd go for Howard's 55+ except that history teaches us that it'll be another 40 - 50 years before we cover the working-class.  30-55 year-olds will be raising kids without health care as more and more businesses stop providing it.

    Eat4Today, Crushing Republicans through diet and Exercise....

    by katiebird on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:58:17 AM PDT

  •  Expanding Medicare (0+ / 0-)

    If we choose to expand Medicare to a broader set of the population we must fix some of the serious flaws in the current system. Many physicians will not take new Medicare patients because the low reimbursement for services does not cover the cost of providing them.  In some cases physcians have told me that they treat their Medicare patients pro-bono because the cost of the staff time to chase the reimbursement is not worth it.  Medicare is currently being subsidized by private payers.  If we want to expand Medicare to a larger share of the market, and I support a single payer system, we need to have a more realistic payment program for the individuals and institutions that actually provide the care.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:11:36 AM PDT

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