Single Payer Gets a Voice Behind the Table

May 9, 2009

When reason fails shouting prevails.

From Senator Max Baucus, “We need more police.”

Voics from the back of the room

And more voices from behind the table.

Margaret Flowers, MD & Katie Robbins, Healthcare-NOW

Carol Paris, MD, PNHP

Adam Schneider from Health Care for the Homeless

Russell Mokhiber, Single Payer Action

Thanks to the brave organizers of this event!

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The Stimulus and the right wingers on health care

February 7, 2009

In discussing the nation’s health care system, “broken” is the most common descriptive term.  Almost all stakeholders seem to agree on the adjective.  Not Mr. Tevi Troy, writing recently for the Weekly Standard.

Health Care Reform Can be a Stimulus

I have argued that a major overhaul of health care would be a significant stimulus to the economy by leveling the competitive playing field for both employers and workers – those currently working, those out of work and those working on the margins.  In the long term, it would free up capital, both the monetary kind and the human kind, for more productive investments.

It does not surprise me that Congress might see things differently.  The major health care provisions in the stimulus package that will be approved by the Senate have very little to do with stimulus and everything to do with safety net.  Support for state Medicaid programs and provisions related to COBRA.  There are two small provisions in the package that do attempt to push the reform agenda a tiny fraction of an inch.

There is a provision in both House and Senate versions of the bill for for further development of electronic medical records and there is money for “comparative effectiveness research”.

These are hardly earth shaking provisions, unless you are listening to the likes of Mr. Tevi Troy.  To Mr. Troy and his ilk, these measures are the Ft. Sumter of the liberal war on the US health care system.

What planet to these people live on? Read the rest of this entry »


Administrative Cost Savings Is No Myth

December 3, 2008

Since November 4th, interest in health reform proposals has understandably intensified.  I like to flatter myself that this blog might make a small contribution.  But I do have a day job and so the horn I blow here only has one note; if we simplify the system we can find the money we need to cover the people without health insurance and increase product satisfaction among all stakeholders.  

I am not a policy wonk who views the health care system wonderfully distilled through the glorious abstraction of statistics; nor am I encumbered by practical politics.   I view the system from the bottom looking up.  I have a stake in the present system, but that stake is poorly represented in these musings.  I am a gatekeeper to the health care maze.  In my ideal world there would be far less need for the work I am doing.

I know from daily encounters just how daunting that maze is for people needing care.  I tend to demonize piece rate physicians who are too quick to deny care rather than trust the maze.

So when I read others who write about health care reform I look for my theme.  On Sunday, November 23, 2008, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by Shannon Brownlee and Ezekiel Emanuel, 5 Myths About Our Ailing Health-Care System.  The authors are right on target with four of the five myths that they debunk.  They drive home the point that we are paying a lot of money for our health care, that we are paying a lot of money for not particularly good health care, that we really are paying the price through premiums, taxes, and lost wages, and that Americans are ready for a change.

I take issue with myth #3 – we would save a lot of money if we could cut the administrative waste of private insurance.  The authors don’t think much of that notion.  Since administrative complexity, and consequently costs, is my central theme, I need to take issue with the authors on this one.   Read the rest of this entry »