Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Needed more than ever: a bipartisan commission on health care reform

President Obama's famous luck continues to run. He has been saved from having to sign the medical "reform" atrocity that was being ground out by congressional sausage-makers by last night's election of Republican Scott Brown to "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the U.S. Senate.

I was a nearly lifelong Republican who was converted to becoming a Democrat by George W. Bush's foreign policy, particularly the totally unnecessary Iraq war, and by the incompetent management of that war until implementation of the "surge" during Bush's second term. I voted for Obama in 2008 and do not regret doing so in the slightest, though he has not lived up to my admittedly optimistic expectations.

I believe that the key to successful health care reform lies, not with the Democratic Party, not with the current Republican leaders, but rather with those members of the electorate who consider themselves conservatives and/or Republicans. It seems to me that from the point of view of these people, much of which I share, a carefully-designed single payer insurance system would be a much better approach than the outrageously complicated, constitutionally-dubious scheme of mandating that individuals buy insurance.

It will not be possible to scale down the recent bills to just "reform insurance". To prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based on preexisting conditions without also mandating that everybody buy insurance or be covered by employer-purchased insurance would be to make the insurance business an impossible one. If we could wait to buy fire insurance until our house catches fire, fire insurance would have to cost as much as the repairs or replacement of the house-----in other words, it wouldn't be insurance.

If we are going to require everyone be insured, why not just insure everybody and pay for it with a broadly based tax (not just soak the rich!---there aren't enough of them).

President Obama should announce in his State of the Union message next week that he would like to create a bipartisan commission to study the health systems of all foreign countries that have them, analyze their strong points and weak points, and design a system for the U.S. that incorporates as many of the strong points and as few of the weak points as possible. This proposal would then go to Congress for an up or down vote.

I believe that a properly-designed public relations campaign could sell such a system to the American people in spite of efforts by self-interested groups like insurance companies, drug companies, and others to confuse the issue.

If public opinion, especially among conservatives and Republicans, came to favor a single-payer system, the congressional Republicans would come around and support that system . . . . or be thrown out on their ears. By analogy, remember how George Wallace, who won elections proclaiming "segregation forever," changed his tune completely when large number of black people started voting after enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I can foresee a similar miracle among Republican politicians when public opinion broadly comes to support single-payer.

This article has run in the Adrian (Michigan) Daily Telegram.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are e-mailed to me. I will post excerpts from those I think will most interest readers.