DrSteveB's blog

The Irony of Seattle's Group Health Coop as Conservative Compromise

Cross-posted DKos, Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 11:59:33 AM PDT

Like most single payer activists, I would LOVE for Seattle's Group Health Cooperative to become the model for the United States health care. And like anybody who actually knows what they are talking about, fell out of my chair laughing when it was proposed as the conservative's disingenuous compromise.

It's the Inequality, Stupid!

Crossposted at DKos. Graphs there are in wider format.

Updated numbers and commentary from Emmanuel Saez (h/t Krugman) reminds us just how bad things are and have been for a while.  One might hope that the current economic crisis does not divert our attention from the longer term issues.  

I would argue that pretty much all of our problems and issues, be it health care, education, environment, collapsing public infrastructure, jobs, trade, taxes, and yes right-wing populism can be directly linked to income and wealth inequality.  And the fact that inequality has gotten MUCH MUCH worse ever since 1979-1980 (I suggest looking up who became president in the United States at that time):


On the one hand, it is not just a U.S. story. Income inequality has risen throughout the developed world, according the OECD.

Of Course AHIP is Funding the Attack on Health Reform

Once again, in what I shrilly take to be his care to not be perceived as too shrill or too, you know, progressive, Ezra Klein tries to make the argument that the Republican Party and the conservative movement are out in front and out of control in their attacking health reform, in ways that are not supported or funded by big business in general and AHIP in particular.

That is both silly and wrong, and as evidence listen to the dog that is not barking.

Single Payer at the table... on Colbert Report tonight

Tonight's (Tuesday, July 21, at 11:30 pm EDT) Colbert Report will have Dr. Aaron Carroll talking about single-payer health reform.

Dr. Carroll is a board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance.

House to Vote on Single Payer HR-676





Really. Sort of.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) will introduce, in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an amendment to the Tri-Committee health care bill. The amendment would replace the private health insurance industry with a single-payer national health insurance program.

In effect, the Weiner amendment would substitute Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) single-payer bill, HR-676, for the Tri-Committee legislation.

The vote will take place the same day it is offered; last I heard on Monday.

My take:

AMA is only 20%, BUT other Doctor groups need to SHOUT!

As many of us have pointed out for years, only a small (15 to 25%), declining and unrepresentative number of physicians belong to the despicable AMA.

In fact, despite the AMA position, 59% of physicians support "government legislation to establish national health insurance"!

Health Care Reform in the House - Committees & Contacts

For several months the apparent public action has been in the Senate, first mostly with the Finance Committee (Baucus) and more recenlty, finally in the Health Committee (Kennedy, with Dodd and Harkin).

Late last week the House became more publicly active wiht Majority Leader Steny Hoyer having a publicized meeting with the leadership of the the three committees (and their subcommittees working to develop health care reform legislation in the House - Energy and Commerce Committee (Henry Waxman; Frank Pallone), Ways and Means (Charles Rangel & Pete Stark), and Education and Labor Committee (George Miller & Robert Andrews).

Strong Public Option: 100% Coverage & Cost Control

For those who feel the need (I know, "it is the politically feasible thing to do") to keep the private for-profit insurance companies in business, and allow people to keep what they have if they prefer, but also offer the strongest version of public option, there has been a better bill available all along:

Representative Pete Stark's (chairman of the House Way and Means Health Subcommittee) H.R. 193, The Americare Health Insurance Act.

This proposal, unlike that of Obama/Baucus/Kennedy actually controls total costs while getting to truly 100% universal coverage, according to independent analysis by the Commonwealth Fund and Lewin Group.  It is public option on steroids and single payer lite: The gist is that is expanded and improved Medicare for all, but you can keep the health insurance you have if you prefer.  Unlike the public option proposals that the beltway insiders have decided to put forward, it really would be competetive with private insurance, and a chance to evolve into true single payer with the benefits therein.

More Medical Bankruptcy-Have Insurance, Go Bankrupt

Dear President Obama,Senator Baucus and Speaker Pelosi:

Will your health refrom end medical bankruptcy?
Just asking...?


What a great system we have in the United States!

As Senator Baucus and other continue to defend propping up the "uniquely American" system of for-profit private insurance, that system continue to cause a uniquely American event: Personal bankruptcy due to illness and medical bills. This does not occur in other countries.

There is a new, follow-up study (.pdf) on the subject just out today, in the leading professional peer review American Journal of Medicine:

Illness and medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of all United States bankruptcies in 2007

Harvard study finds 50 percent increase from 2001

Most of those bankrupted by illness were middle class and had insurance

Follow me  for the sad gory details

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Downloadable copies of press release and info above is at the PNHP website here.

And again, downloadable full text of professional peer review journal article is here.

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Progressive Case to Eliminate Health Insurance Tax Credit

Although it has been mostly promoted in the political sphere by right wing free market fundamentalists as part of their proposals to throw everybody into an individual insurance market (a horrible idea), and by some in congress in disingenuous plans (Wyden-Bennett) to save the federal budget part of health care costs (but increasing total costs and costs to both individuals and states; thanks a lot), there is a progressive policy

Obama's great choice for Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The New York Times is reporting what had been until now a rumor too good to be true. Dr. Tom Frieden, currently the hard-driving activist NYC Commissioner of Health, will be the new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Disclaimer: I have personal history with Tom.

Will Your Healthcare Reform do the Following...?

I want, for now at least, to avoid the single payer vs. building blocks (mandates and little public option, etc.) debate per se. Let us go back to first principles and determine what we want out of a system? I would suggest that we can evaluate the success of health reform proposals by asking what it will, or will not, accomplish:


The Most Complete & Honest Comparison of Health Proposals...so far

The Commonwealth Fund has done the country an enormous (if oddly incomplete) favor and done an independent detailed comparison of the many health "reform" proposals in congress and the Obama plan.


Of the plans they chose to review, the only plan that both covers everybody and actually controls total costs is the plan that most closely adopts features of single-payer, which is the latest proposal from Pete Stark who is chair of the Health Subcommittee in Ways & Means.

The more publicized proposals – Obama, Baucus, Wyden, the "moderate" consensus plan now known as Building Blocks – are all objectively worse.

In addition, this from an organization that does NOT support single payer!

It will also provide a follow-up my earlier diary on this report, why the Commonwealth Fund did not include the Conyers bill HR-676 which is a single payer proposal, which Stark's is not, among their many reviews.

Follow me for more details...