A Letter to President Barack Obama

Single Payer is your best option

On Thursday, March 5, you had your Health Care Summit. I know your concern about the cost of health care motivates your push for reform. I was one of those who called the White House and e-mailed the White House asking that you open up your process to the single payer option.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Like you I am concerned about the drain that the health care system exerts on the economy. You are concerned about costs. One of my concerns is the work force. I have made the argument here that a single payer system would have a liberating effect on the work force and on employment practices in general.

Did you provide health care benefits to your campaign workers?

On Thursday, I happened to read an old article in the New Yorker about your presidential campaign.  What an excellent way to illustrate my point.  I presume  your paid staff had health care benefits paid for courtesy of the campaign.  I am sure finding benefit plans for people all over the country was not how you wanted to spend you campaign funds, even as flush as you were.  

I am sure that you did it because it was the right thing to do.  Yet you cut corners wherever you could.  For example, I will bet that a number of your paid staff had benefits paid for by other employers (their spouse’s, for example).  Do you really think that is fair?  But that is the nature of the system you function in.  No one takes full responsibility.

And to your volunteers?

But what about your volunteer staff?  Did they have benefits?  Did you ask?  How many more volunteers might have been possible if people weren’t concerned about their health benefits?  What about campaigns that didn’t generate the kind of energy and enthusiasm and turn out that your campaign did and does?

My son is getting ready to volunteer to lead a group on a cross country bicycle trip to raise money and awareness for low income housing.  He will give up his employer sponsored health benefits to do that.  It is not clear how he will replace those benefits.  COBRA is expensive.  The trip sponsor, Bike and Build, does not seem to offer a benefit option.  They rely on young adult students who frequently are still dependents on their parents’ group health plans.  Although the sponsor requires insurance, they don’t help anyone get it.

Sounds like some of the reform proposals kicking around.

A single payer eliminates those concerns.  All citizens (at a minimum) will be covered under the plan.  People can make employment decisions, volunteer decisions, study decisions, new business venture decisions without concerns about health insurance distorting their decision process.

A single payer system allows employers – and political campaigns – to focus on their core competencies and not be weighed down with the sole responsibility for providing a life sustaining and very expensive benefit.  Employees, volunteers, students, entrepreneurs can allow their talents full expression without the additional worry of health care benefits.  It is a win win proposition.

It just takes a few people to say – yes, we can.

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