Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Must Read

Health Care Speechwriter for Edwards, Clinton, and Obama, Wendy Button, rethinks universal healthcare after moving to Massachusetts. You know, my state, where my mother pays almost $700 a month for her individual coverage but we have universal health care!

Right now, the truth is if I could buy my health plan from D.C., then I would. If I could buy into a public option, co-op, or trigger plan, whatever they want to call it, then I would. If I qualified for the new exchange, then I'd get into that, too, but four years is a long time to go without a physical, pap smear, and to have this mole checked. If someone were to put Medicare for All back on the table, then I would be fine with that too. Honestly, it's starting to make the most fiscal sense: $450 billion we pay to insurance companies could be redirected to Medicare, $350 billion in savings in paper work, and of course that $500 billion in savings for "waste, fraud, and abuse."

If this country is about to gamble a trillion dollars plus -- and it will be a big plus no matter what the Congressional Budget Office projection is -- then why not use a system that already exists? My experience in politics has been any time a politician says $500 billion will come from "waste, fraud, and abuse" that's a fancy way of saying, "Hold on to your wallet; we'll pay for it later."

We have to be careful about how we spend this trillion dollars. Right now, we are $1.4 trillion in the hole and the Senate has been asked to raise the country's debt ceiling to $12 trillion. We are fighting two wars and may increase troop levels in one. We have 250 new Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking care from VA facilities every day, and unemployment is headed north, past 10 percent. Has anyone else thought, "Hey wait a minute? Why are we proposing to spend so much on a mess of a plan?"

Why can't Washington look north to Massachusetts? What's the lesson for the nation in its successes and failures: universal coverage first or cost reductions? If health care is a right, then why aren't we starting over with Medicare for All? If health care is a responsibility, then why aren't we changing the system to address that? There is a big red flag planted in the middle of this state and it looks like everyone's just pledging allegiance to it rather understanding the warning in its wave.

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