I loved Howard Dean on health care when he was my governor - so much, in fact, that I became a minor poo-bah in his presidential campaign in another state. So I was quite happy yesterday to see him saying something that appeared right here last week:
Now that Governor Dean has said it, can we all start singing along loudly? Here's why:
- "Public option" is scary because it sounds like the taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill. "Private purchase" changes the focus - individuals get to choose what they are buying, and each consumer foots their own bill.
- Medicare is popular with everybody. Even the most rabid Republicons are shouting that you'll have to pry their Medicare from their cold, dead hands.
- The Medicare Private Purchase plan doesn't need to be identical to Medicare for seniors - it can be tweaked for the needs of a younger set. For example, I'm pretty sure that current Medicare doesn't have much for pregnancy care. The idea is to use Medicare as a brand name, and then make the necessary adjustments for the different clients. Think of Purina Dog Chow: you can get a puppy formula, an adult formula, and a senior formula, but they are all carrying a label you trust and a price you appreciate.
- Think of the semantic shift from "Swine Flu" to "H1-N1". The name change (arguably) took some of the wind out of the sails of the mass-hysteria coverage, and replaced it with a more logical focus on managing the global response to the disease. Similarly, if we take "public option" out of the daily discourse (while leaving intact the concept of buying private insurance from a public entity, which is really what we are talking about), we will deftly remove one of the biggest talking points for the forces of the status quo. Can't you see the Becks and O'Reillys sputtering on about how we have to oppose letting people privately purchase coverage from the nation's most effective insurer? Of course they will sputter, but the shallowness of their argument will be made completely apparent to [almost] everybody.
We change the terms, we mess with their heads, and we get what we have been fighting for. Can you sing it with me, and sing it with Doctor Dean?:
MEDICARE PRIVATE PURCHASE!!!