Universal Health Care and Unions in 2006

There are a lot of reasons to work for universal health care.  There's the moral - health care is essential for a democratic society.  There's the economic - universal health care is cheaper than what we have now.  And there's the political.  First of all, it hurts the right, badly.  Two huge funding sources for Republicans are doctors and insurance companies, which are basically massively inefficient companies designed to deny you care.  In addition, being able to deny Americans the ability to change jobs is key to promoting the economic instability that allows fear-based politics to flourish.  And then there's the union piece, or as Jonathan Tasini puts it:

In today's New York Times, yet another piece of evidence for the case for national health insurance (or, better understood, Medicare For All). The New York Times has a front-page story on the massive increase in health care costs that New York will face in the near future because of health care coverage for government workers. New York City government will see its health care costs quintuple to at least $5 billion and perhaps $10 billion, according to the story.

The issue is framed in light of the recent transit strike. And this is an obvious warning, intended or not, to public employee unions--your health care coverage is at risk. What we saw happening in the transit strike will happen to firefighters, teachers and other public workers--your employers will demand health care concessions and, if you go out on strike, the mayor or the governor will call you greedy or, perhaps, "thuggish" (the billionaire mayor's favorite phrase). Those politicians will pit you against the rest of the public, most of which will not enjoy the kind of health care coverage public employees have. It will be ugly.

So, start now, I say: the labor movement must put an immediate revolution in health care on the agenda in 2006. It's as important as new organizing because (a) if unions are seen as a key component in bringing real health care to the uninsured it can only help organizing and (b) it's not going to be a big step forward if unions can organize new workers but not deliver decent health care coverage.

Universal health care.  $8/hour minimum wage.  These are the issues that not only are good for society, but help Democrats.  Power is accretive, and we must constantly seek to change the playing field.  That's why pushing on health care, crushing the insurance companies in the process, is the right strategy.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)

Comments

50 Comments

Yes!!!
Absolutely!!!  I couldn't agree with you more.  I feel very strongly that we need to return to being the party of big ideas, and this is a big idea the country is absolutely ripe for.  Democrats have been way too skittish about this issue; even in 2000, just 7 years after Clinton's managed competition debacle, I think a leader like Bill Bradley could have made something happen.  (With all due respect to the Al Gore fans here, I was never that excited about his candidacy back in 2000; his failure to articulate an ambitious plan to deal with the health care crisis is a major reason.)

Employers are getting desperate.  Many people in the middle class are getting desperate.  There's a coalition to be built here that crosses traditional constituencies.  Even the evil Wal-Mart could probably be brought on board; they'd like the problem to go away as much as, or more than, anyone.  It's just such a damn shame we lost Wellstone, he would have been a natural leader in the Senate for this.  

The key, in my opinion, is to think up a version of the single payer system that would work in the U.S.  Mimicing the inefficiencies of the current insurance network through "managed competition" or  that sort of thing doesn't strike me as a sensible approach.

In case this isn't evident from my tone, I'm thrilled to see this bubbling up in the political discourse again after a long, dark night.

by arenwin 2005-12-26 07:18AM | 0 recs
GM CEO supports universal healtcare!
Ok, so he didn't exactly come out and say it, but if you read his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, pretty much the only conclusion you can get from Richard Wagoner is that we should have a universal healthcare system.

This is an issue that the Democrats should work with the unions AND with big business leaders who are struggling to pay for health care costs.  If GM has to pay $1500 per car on their employees' healthcare, that's a pretty damn good reason to support a universal healthcare system.

by Fran for Dean 2005-12-26 07:47AM | 0 recs
Packages
Universal health care.  $8/hour minimum wage.

I don't believe these are separable going forward.  To the extent they remain discrete legislative items, each may be reduced or limited, then promoted as "advances" for "working Americans".  If the past is any guide the wage will be debated downward, and medical care for "the X million children" will provide a poor substitute for universal healthcare.  ("At least we covered the kids.")

If we are to build a floor for the workers in this Country, we should at least make it built to last.  Tie the issues in a package, and include COLAs sufficient to maintain that ephemeral "minimum standard of living".  The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) provides the numbers for rent alone in their Out of Reach:  2005 report:

In Alabama, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $527. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $1,758 monthly or $21,094 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $10.14.

I'm just really tired of seeing "working" and "poor" in the same sentence.

by rba 2005-12-26 08:00AM | 0 recs
$8/hour minimum wage.
They have trouble getting kids and old folks supplementing their Social Security to work for $6.75/hour here in California. This is a history of the California minimum wage and a Minimum Wage Issue Guide from our friends at EPI.

Their Real Value of the Minimum Wage chart indicates that $8/hour may be a good improvement to shoot for, but it should definitely be indexed to inflation.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-26 09:30AM | 0 recs
The Devil is in the Details...
I'm all for Universal Health Care.  But the real issue is the methodology of the application.  I've lived in both Canada and the U.K. and both health care systems were absolutely horrible.  People there hated their health care systems and many simply paid private doctors for their health care when they needed treatment.

In Canada -- because of the proximity to the U.S. -- many of my co-workers went to the U.S. for most of their health care and many had fake U.S. addresses and purchased private health insurance in the U.S. and used that for their medical care.  Shockingly both systems have cut-off ages for "curative treatment" with Canada's being 55 and the U.K.'s being 58.  If you are those ages or older - because of the cost -- if you have a serious illness you are not treated but you are made "comfortable".  A co-worker of mine in Toronto found out she had cancer at age 57.  She was told she would receive no treatment but would be able to get all the painkillers she wanted.

My point is this.  We have always been a very innovative country.  We have often figured out the best way to do things.  We know our current system of health care has wonderful points but is a failure to many, many people.  We also know that many countries have universal health care, but improvements can be made.  Let's study them all and put the very best system together.

On minimum wage issues, as a proud democrat I can only sigh.  Any economist will tell you that the minimum wage does nothing to help people.  It always results in initial loss of jobs in minimum wage jobs and then rapid low-end inflation that allows the economy to adjust and very, very shortly the new minimum wage only has the same buying power as the old minimum wage.

The only way minimum wage increases would work is if you could somehow raise the minimum wage while putting into a effect a freeze on all the following price adjustments (not to mention figuring out some way to help the businesses suddenly facing huge -- possibly deadly -- reductions in profits caused by the new labor costs), which of course cannot be done.

A minimum wage increase proposal is the ultimate in political B.S.  Any educated person knows that it does absolutely no good for anyone and actually hurts those it is intended to help.  And everyone knows that proposing one is also the ultimate in political B.S. because its hard to oppose without looking "mean" and "evil".

If minimum wage increases actually helped people and could operate in a vacuum (without having causal effect) then why don't we just make the minimum wage $1 million dollars an hour and then we can all just be rich and never work again?

You help workers by training them and educating them to have a greater value to the economy NOT by trying to cram value through to a job that is only worth a certain amount.

Minimum wage increases will never help anyone, but minimum education and training standards would.  NOW everyone start screaming for my heresy in pointing out the fallaciousness and political pandery of minimum wage increases.  Sorry to speak truth to political expediency...

by Blue Dreams 2005-12-26 08:21AM | 0 recs
Medicare For Everyone--A Very Simple Solution
We already have a very good (not perfect) system. It's called "Medicare." We just redo the perscription drug benefit, so that it benefits patients, not drug companies, and then remove the age qualification, so that it applies to all Americans.

We should keep a re-tooled version of the VA for veterans, because they have a significant number of special needs.  But we should also look at improving access and reducing overall costs by merging some functions, where appropriate.  This way, we should actually be able to reach more veterans in places where they now have to travel much farther than they should have to.

Minimum Wage GOP Garbage

Any economist will tell you that the minimum wage does nothing to help people.
That's because economists don't work for minimum wage. Nor do the vast majority of them live in the real world.  In the real world, farmworkers and factory workers had very similar wages in the mid-1930s.  Factory workers were protected by a minimum wage. Farmworkers were not. Many farmworkers to this day work for less than the minimum wage.  

This was not the only difference, of course.  Factory workers had a high concentration of unionization, which drove up wages even where unions weren't present, in order to buy workers off.  But most folks are shocked when they realize that dramatic differences in wages we take for granted today were not a result of the huge productivity advantages enjoyed by mass manufacturing.  They are a result of differential labor law. Period.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-12-26 09:51AM | 0 recs
Economics is natural science...
Economics is natural science as much as biology or meteorology.  Supply and demand and other economic forces cannot be governed by law no matter how much we pretend it can be.

Otherwise why not just make unemployment illegal (huh? What would that even mean?).  Like I said previously, minimum wage increases are meaningless political gestures of do-gooding that help no one.  The facts and research are irrefutable.  The initial reaction to a minimum wage increase is an immediate reactionary reduction in the minimum wage labor force followed by a relatively rapid inflationary response that soon renders the minimum wage increase invalid and equal to the buying power of the previous minimum wage level.  Otherwise why not just make the minimum wage $1 million an hour and we could all retire to the world where we pretend that economics is not a natural science unmovable by the laws of man.

While we're at it lets pass laws against hurricanes (maybe a minimum Hurricane-Level law?  No hurricanes over Category 1...) and snowstorms and floods.

When we see an adult working at minimum wage we do not serve them by saying, "Let's pass a small increase in the minimum wage law that might benefit you briefly before the inflationary adjustment -- if you aren't that part of the minimum wage force that is layed off."  We should look at that person and offer training and education so that their value to the economy is greater.

Let's stop tricking the working poor with B.S. solutions that don't work.  Let's really help them!

by Blue Dreams 2005-12-26 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
Any economist will tell you that the minimum wage does nothing to help people.

You are a liar.

by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
I banned him.  No lying here.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 11:15AM | 0 recs
Shucks! I Was Going To Point Out
that educating workers does no good for them either. You just end up with PhDs driving taxis.  As the supply of highly-educated workers goes up, the relative demand goes down.

Economists may not know this. But PhDs in English surely do.  Which just goes to show you can learn more about economics from William Shakespeare than you can from Milton Friedman.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-12-26 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
You banned him?  What does that mean?  I think we should be tolerant of people expressing opinions that we dont agree with.

I support banning spammers, trolls, and the flame-war crowd, but banning people who sincerely present a dissenting position makes me uncomfortable.  

by Winston Smith 2005-12-26 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
Lying is not arguing in good faith.  Nothing good comes of that.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
I looked over his comments and I agree he may have been a troll.  His comments are always, "I am a good liberal democrat, but (insert suspiciously pro-republican comment here)."  

So if you want to ban him for being a troll, it is probably justified.  I still dont like the implication that if members say something that the moderators disagree with, they will be called a liar and kicked off the board.

by Winston Smith 2005-12-27 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
he seemed pretty trollish to me, judging from his post history.
by Fran for Dean 2005-12-26 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
Matt, I respectfully have to agree with Winston on this issue. Here is the best place to consider such views.

Roger L. Owen
http://roger-owen-for-congress.4t.com

by Whiny Roger Owen 2005-12-26 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
And so you are banned as well.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-27 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
So why wasn't I banned?
by Winston Smith 2005-12-28 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
This is right-wing-economics equals religion stuff.

If polar bears had a use the market would find a way to save them, etc...

In fact when actually STUDIED raising the minimum wage usually results in more jobs, from a boost to the economy, because more people with more money to spend results in more business.  The more it is redistributive the better -- meaning shifting to the workers instead of accumulating at the top.

Which brings out another problem with right-wing economics.  Science looks at what happens and tries to explain it.  Right-wing-economics is all about "if only people would do so-and-so, such-and-such would happen."  

by davej 2005-12-26 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Economics is natural science...
That's why I banned him.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
A few good economists disagree:

The minimum wage has been an important part of our nation's economy for 65 years. It is based on the principle of valuing work by establishing an hourly wage floor beneath which employers cannot pay their workers. In so doing, the minimum wage helps to equalize the imbalance in bargaining power that low-wage workers face in the labor market. The minimum wage is also an important tool in fighting poverty.  [Source:  EPI, Oct '04].

Arguments against the minimum wage are usually put forth by those who: have never had to survive on that "floor"; are right-wing conservative idealogues who advocate for a "free market" including the "right-to-work".

Ya gotta love the logic of providing public benefits equal to 87% of the poverty line for a family of three, while minimum wage stagnated at 78% in the 80's.  Brilliant.  Why mandate a floor that produces net gains to the Treasury, when we can just pay more in public benefits - including healthcare?

Sam Walton would be proud.

by rba 2005-12-26 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
Yeah, that's a fine example of how screwed up the system is. Public aid ensures that you stay below the poverty line while at the same time being more attractive than working at the minimum wage. As a result the GOP trumpets,"Those people don't want to work, we need to lower welfare payments." All the while ignoring the logic of rational decisions being made about the crazy system they created.
by antiHyde 2005-12-26 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
Let's study them all and put the very best system together.

But of course. There are plenty of lessons to be learned for shortcomings in the Canadian and British health care systems, whatever those are. They can all be addressed with a comprehensive package. The problem is that we will never get a good package unless Dems control the WH and both houses of Congress. Even then it will be difficult to buck the health care special interests.

Health Care for all will not eliminate private insurance, it will merely provide a basic floor of minimum care that should also include hearing aids and dental insurance. I recently spent $4,000 for hearing aids that were not even partially covered by my health insurance package from work.

Health care coverage in America is a national disgrace.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-26 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
The idea that minimum wage increases lead to hogher unemployment has been pretty thoroughly debunked here.

David Card and Alan B. Krueger . . . present a powerful new challenge to the conventional view that higher minimum wages reduce jobs for low-wage workers. . . . they present a battery of evidence showing that increases in the minimum wage lead to increases in pay, but no loss in jobs.

The Card-Krueger work is essentially correct: the minimum wage at levels observed in the United States has had little or no effect on employment.

--Richard B. Freeman, Journal of Economic Perspectives

These guys are serious economists -- Card is a winner of the Clark Medal, which is second only to the Nobel in terms of prestige.

There is no reason for progressives to fall for this junk economics argument ever again.

by tgeraghty 2005-12-26 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
There is no reason for progressives to fall for this junk economics argument ever again.

The M$M should not even fall for junk economic theories. Supply side economics is no more valid than Intelligent Design. Supply side economics is a politiical preference dressed up in the language of economics, just like Intelligent Design is a religious theory dressed up in the language of science.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-26 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
Stop using the term MSM.  Say corporate media, or top down media.  But do not say mainstream media. WE ARE mainstream.

Ok?

by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
To be fair to Gary, he did replace the "S" with $.
by tgeraghty 2005-12-26 07:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
Is the term "mainstream media" suddenly not part of the orthodox vocabulary?
by Winston Smith 2005-12-28 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Devil is in the Details...
You presented the reality of these two issues very well. Along with tying the minimum wage to the cost of living index, it would also have to be "area specific". Another index to consider is the disparity between the average wage of a worker versus a CEO's compensation package of a given company. Maybe a CEO's compensation package should be tied to the average worker's wage in that company. And to exceed that limit could be subject to a "punitive tax". I think you would find that it would then be in a CEO's best interest to advance the pay scales of the rank and file employees.

In reference to national health care, we should take what already exists under various other programs. And establish/move it to a national health care program. Once established, then it would be easier to tweak/expand that program.

Respectfully;
Roger Owen
http://roger-owen-for-congress.4t.com

by Whiny Roger Owen 2005-12-26 08:29PM | 0 recs
I believe you are lying
Show me proof (a link to a government website or the like) that if you get cancer at 57 in Canada, the government health system does not pay to cure it.  My attempts to find such a rule via Google have failed.  I also found no such rule in the UK either.  There seems to have been discussion of such, but the one article I found was a BBC discussion talking in the future tense, as in "this has been proposed but not put into place as there was opposition":

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/4516091.stm

Since you are lying, you are a troll.  Hence my rating.  If you can give me proof that you are not a liar, I will change my rating.

The minimum wage argument is right wing talking point stuff, too.

by Geotpf 2005-12-26 11:26PM | 0 recs
WHAT'S WITH THIS INTOLERANCE!?????
I mean..what is this?? People calling people liars and banning people?? is this a police state website?? I mean this is the kind of stuff I'd expect on Redstate or Free Republic (Barf)..but not here? I read Mr Owen's comments and that of BlueDreams and so what if its a different take or look at health care..it CERTAINLY DOES NOT DESERVE NAME CALLLING?? I mean c'mon...we should be open to discourse and by Golly disagree as civilized people..but calling people LIARS and BANNING people cos they post differently and (even get some of their facts wrong) doesn't mean they are TROLLS or should be BANNED!!! It makes one wonder if the original commentator is fuilly confident in the basis of their argument. If you feel that the other individual is incorrect, there is a better way to point that out other than calling them liars.

I read tons of posts on MyDD and Dailykos and like almost all other human opinions posted are NOT written with air tight logic or contain verfiable facts..but at least one believes or supports their views even if others can disagree. Debate is healthy and unlike the GOP Brain-Drain Kapitan's..we should not be calling folks LIARs and BANNING THEM..its just not right!!!!

by dantata 2005-12-27 06:09AM | 0 recs
The original poster stated something as a fact
He (or she) stated that there was a cut off date of 55 years old, after which the Canadian health system would not pay to cure somebody's cancer.

After a through Googling, I found no such mention of such a cut off by anybody, anywhere.  Google knows all, and something so dramatic would merit discussion by somebody somewhere.  Therefore, I believe the poster is making up such a cutoff, to attack (subtly) the whole concept of universal health care.  If they are not, a link providing proof of such would show that I am incorrect.

As for banning, I am a mere user and can do no such thing.

by Geotpf 2005-12-27 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The original poster stated something as a fact
Well..I would not go so far as to say that Google knows all, but my general point was that one can disagree and say such a "fact" is incorrect...I just don't like name calling. One can make one's point without resorting to that. I think I saw a person named Matt Stoller threatening to BAN someone..I just think it hurts the spirit of democratic openeness. So long as the individual is not a troll, rabid race-baiter or physically threatens the life of another poster, he/she should be allowed to say what they want and we can end it by just agreeing to disagree.
by dantata 2005-12-27 08:20AM | 0 recs
If somebody states something as a fact...
...that is false, they are, by definition, a liar.  That is not name calling, that is, well, merely stating a fact.

If I called him a doodoohead Bushbot, that would be name calling.

by Geotpf 2005-12-28 10:24PM | 0 recs
Health Care
My relatives in Canada love their health care. One just went for some serious cancer treatment with no hassles. There are no forms to fill out or fighting with insurance companies over what will be covered, etc.

Every advanced western country has government run health care. Only in the US can the shills who work for the private health care industry deny the reality that the systems provide more bang for the buck than in the US.

by rdf 2005-12-26 08:34AM | 0 recs
My beef..
"That's why pushing on health care, crushing the insurance companies in the process, is the right strategy" (from diary above)

From my recollection, this strategy is what (among other things) crushed the Clinton's 1993 effort to provide health care to all Americans.  There were thousands (if not more) folks who worked in insurance (some Dems, some Republicans, many who probably weren't all that political in any one direction) who basically got the message that "when we have national health care, you'll not only be out of a job, but also out of a career, because there won't be private health insurnace in the US anymore under this plan --- and we're not saying much more than that".  While these folks were a minority of Americans, they said back to the Clinton's quite publically "like hell you're going to take away my livelihood -- I'm going to fight like hell to keep my job!" And fight they did, with all their might, and in the end, their side won that particular political battle (and they kept their jobs in insurance).

My point, and how this relates back to the political battles of this decade, is that whenever legislation is going to leave a defined group of individuals without jobs and/or entire careers (health care legislation, cuts in farm subsidies, smoking prevention programs, etc. etc.) there needs to a mechanism in place to ensure those folks being "displaced by legislation" (for lack of a better term at the moment) aren't left out in the cold.

by David Grossman 2005-12-26 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: My beef..
Why not contract with the insurance companies by competitive bid to do the processing of the additional claims. Wouldn't this be close to an order of magnitude increase in the number of people covered by Medicare? It would be a slow process to increase federal employment by that much.  

Big business does this all the time. Generally, you have a right to appeal directly to the company if your claim is denied. In this case, the appeal would be to a federal review board. The insurance company would not have a financial stake in screwing you, so there should not be too many appeals.

by antiHyde 2005-12-26 10:28AM | 0 recs
Re: My beef..
"Why not contract with the insurance companies by competitive bid to do the processing of the additional claims"

I agree -- your idea would mean that folks displaced by national health care would still have jobs --  but my point is that if you tell folks that their whole sector (in this case health insurnace) is going to be eradicated by legislation, giving them hope for a future will be imperetive for them to feel OK supporting national health care.

by David Grossman 2005-12-26 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: My beef..
Messaging is different from strategy.
by Matt Stoller 2005-12-26 11:12AM | 0 recs
Displaced by legislation
I like that phrase we should add it to our lexicon. Notice, however, that private industry is free to "displace" workers at any time. So this is holding government up to a higher standard than private firms. This burden may make the feasiblity of a transition impossible.

I would suggest a displacement adjustment program. This would be some combination of worker retraining, job placement, unemployment insurance and phased downsizing of the existing industries.

The idea of moving the private sector middlemen to do the same work for a government program is not realistic. Much of the work is unneeded in a government run system. That's why Medicare/Medicaid has a 2-3% overhead vs 30% overhead for the private insurance sector. There would be no need for insurance applicant evaluators, claims adjusters, bulk buying negotiators, etc.

Things will change when big business finds that it is losing out to foreign competition which doesn't have social service costs borne by individual companies. If GM and Ford would wake up they could point to their success with their Canadian plants and national health care. The shoe is just not pinching tight enough yet, I guess.

by rdf 2005-12-26 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Displaced by legislation
A couple points.  Medicare claims processing is almost completely outsourced to private insurers.  Many states do the same with Medicaid.

Also, Medicare has much better admin costs than private insurance but it is not 3% to 30%.  Medicare's admin has generally run in the 5-7% for the past 10 years and private insurance around 15%.

by John Mills 2005-12-27 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: My beef..
What happened with Clinton's plan was that first instead of just going for national health insurance he tried to placate the insurance companies by offering a private insurance plan.  This led to a complicated hodge-podge that was hard to explain to the public.

Second Clinton didn't understand what the Right was about and thought he could work with them if only he offered a plan that met them half-way.  THEY understood that ANY health care plan made Democrats look good so they vowed to block it even before anyone knew what the plan would be.

One good book on the subject is The System by David Broder and Haybes Johnson.

by davej 2005-12-26 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: My beef..
The System lays out the mistakes of the Clinton health reform effort in an excellent manner.  Having worked on Capitol Hill on health issues during this effort, I can tell you the Clinton Admin was pretty arrogant at the time and not particularly concerned about placating the insurance industry or anyone for that matter which proved a huge strategic blunder.  The purchasing cooperative system was developed to capture cost savings through complete system reform rather than simply expand coverage.  

This ended up making everyone in the Medical Industrial Complex mad because the insurers, the drug companies, the doctors, the hospitals  and small businesses did not like the idea of the government run purchasing coops taking money that could possibly have been their profits.  Plus, the purchasing coops were complicated making an easy mark for those opposed to reform.

If the Administration had simply tried to pass an employer mandate as a way to expand coverage, they probably would have succeeded.  It proved a huge strategic blunder.

Unfortunately, a single payer system was never a realistic possibility.  It had very limited support in both the House and Senate.

by John Mills 2005-12-27 07:50PM | 0 recs
Medicare Drug Fiasco--Another Facet Of Opportunity
Adding to the salience of this issue this year is the total fiasco of Bush's percription drug benefit, which was crafted almost exclusively for the benefit of the prescription drug companies.  It is a fiasco of such monumental proportions that it almost impossible to grasp.  But it will affect so many people, in such a fundamental way that the level of anger will likely reach the boiling point a long way before the 2006 elections.

We need to be thinking now about how to capitalize on this anger and frustration.  It shouldn't be hard to argue that we need to go in the exact opposite direction of Bush and the GOP.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-12-26 09:37AM | 0 recs
merry Christmas Matt...
figured I'd throw that one in somewhere!
by David Grossman 2005-12-26 11:00AM | 0 recs
Traditional Democratic Values
This is good politically because it goes back to traditional Democratic values that say if you work hard and play by the rules you won't find yourself thrown out of your home due to a medical emergency.

Democrats have traditionally looked out for the well being of ordinary Americans. Decent affordable healthcare is basic to to this well being.

The only bad part is that too many Democrats will fear being labeled as "liberal" for supporting such an idea. It's a shame our party will not stand up for its traditional values and give a Russ Feingold "Who cares - it's the right thing to do" type answer to such a charge.

by michael in chicago 2005-12-26 11:56AM | 0 recs
Thanks for the link, Matt
I agree that universal health care is a must and a policy platform that Democrats should pursue in 2006 but most importantly in 2008. I appreciate you mentioning 2 of the main groups that are against universal healthcare. As long as doctors in particular are against universal healthcare, I think it's going to be a hard sell to pass. We're going to need a few moderate Republicans in both the Senate and the House to cross over to our side, if we're ever going to get universal healthcare.

With that said, I don't think that moderate Republicans would ever agree to a single payer system. That's why I support a multi-payer system that is similiar to the Swiss healthcare system. It's a system that relies on private health insurance, but the prices for medical services is highly regulated AND there's a minimum threshold for basic services. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone for pre-existing conditions. The Swiss government subsidizes the cost of healthcare and local governments own a few hospitals. The Swiss government forces everyone to buy health insurance. It's a mandate like we in the US have to buy auto insurance if we want to own/drive a car. Anyway, I would check out the Swiss system. From the little that I've heard about it, it's one of the better health systems in the world. All Swiss (100% coverage rate)are covered by the system, yet the Swiss have a great health care delivery system. I think it would be easier for Americans to adjust to the Swiss system rather than the Canadian/British system and the lobbying efforts wouldn't be as intense from doctors/insurance companies, if we adopted the Swiss system . . . . .

Just one suggestion . . . .

by ademption 2005-12-26 12:49PM | 0 recs
Our Personal Experience With Medicare
is very favorable.  Practically everything is covered (with a Medigap policy), and very little paperwork is generated.  I have never had to call to question a payment, or anything.  It is very user friendly, you can see practically anyone you want, and it is evidently more cost efficent than HMOs.  A good system for all.
by Bob H 2005-12-26 12:52PM | 0 recs
national health care
National Health Care needs to be presented as capitalist Freedom. The freedom to have your own business, to be an entrepeneur without the baggage of who you hire. The Freedom to change jobs without the mystery or mirage of the new health insurance situation. The Freedom to go out on a limb with new ventures. The Freedom to entice Toyota to build their plants in our country. The Freedom to plan ahead. The Freedom to stay home and raise a family or care for others. The Freedom to go to school, to improve yourself. The Freedom to marry someone not in perfect health. The Freedom to live with dignity when ill. The Freedom to have medical hope no matter who you are.
by senor crews 2005-12-26 07:52PM | 0 recs
US Medical Industrial Complex
The US has a medical industry complex and pinning the problem solely on the doctors and insurers leaves out three very important pillars who have consistently opposed universal health care - drug companies, medical device manufacturers and hospitals.

Pharmaceutical companies and medical devices companies are the two fastest growing areas for health care costs.  The drug companies consistently opposed both universal coverage and a Medicare Drug benefit (until they got their pay off from Bush in the horrible Medicare Part D).

Hospitals should support universal coverage because it would reduce their charity care but they have always opposed it.  I think it is because most hospitals are run by Republicans.

It is not just the campaign contributions that the medical industrial complex gives that make universal coverage a hard sell.  Millions of people are employed in the health care field and the opponents of universal health care wield job losses very effectively when lobbying their cause.

It may be my experience with the Clinton Health debacle but I am pessimistic about achieving universal health care coverage in the US short of a major crisis.  Hopefully the time is now.  When there are 45 million uninsured, car companies spending more for health care than steel and Starbucks spending more for health care than coffee something needs to be done.

by John Mills 2005-12-27 06:03PM | 0 recs
Here's some information on Canadian health care
Blue Dreams wrote:
"In Canada -- because of the proximity to the U.S. -- many of my co-workers went to the U.S. for most of their health care and many had fake U.S. addresses and purchased private health insurance in the U.S. and used that for their medical care.  Shockingly both systems have cut-off ages for "curative treatment" with Canada's being 55 and the U.K.'s being 58.  If you are those ages or older - because of the cost -- if you have a serious illness you are not treated but you are made "comfortable".  A co-worker of mine in Toronto found out she had cancer at age 57.  She was told she would receive no treatment but would be able to get all the painkillers she wanted."
Now, I'm not a health economist and no expert on our system, I'm just an ordinary Canadian health-care consumer, but this is complete and total BS.
It sounds like Republican 'scare tactic' talking points.
First, Canadians who move south for the winter, to Phoenix or Florida, do have to purchase extra health insurance before they leave, because US health care is so much more expensive than ours.  
But the idea that Canadians would set up fake US addresses and buy US health insurance -- what a ridiculous idea.  Who could afford your premiums?
And there are no age cutoffs for care here -- EVERYBODY is treated, for whatever is wrong.  That's the whole point, for crying out loud.  There are some variations in treatments between provinces in some areas like physical therapy, but the federal Canada Health Act requires all provinces to adhere to common standards for basic health care.
The main problem in the Canadian health care system lately has been waiting lists (like, people having to wait 2 years for a hip replacement, for example) but through concerted effort over the last two years, governments are making a dint in this and the waiting times for treatment are falling -- governments are putting millions more into the system to increase the number of hospital nurses and to train more doctors.  Also, we do have problems for people in rural areas getting access to specialists, who naturally tend to congregate in our larger cities, but I would think this problem also occurs in those areas of the US which are less populated, too.
by CathiefromCanada 2005-12-27 07:08PM | 0 recs

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