Archive for May 6th, 2009|Daily archive page

Health Care Reform

I wanted to highlight some import developments in the health care reform debate. Here is the New York Times on Chuck Schumer’s proposed compromise on including a public government option in the health care reform bill:

The proposal was made Monday by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, in a bid to address fears that a public program would drive private insurers from the market.

Calls for a new public plan have provoked more political passion than any other issue in discussions of how to revamp the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system. The Senate Finance Committee begins to wrestle with the idea at a meeting on Tuesday, where it will examine ways to expand coverage.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to create a public plan, in an effort to compete with private insurers and keep them honest. But insurance companies and Republican lawmakers say a government-run plan could drive private insurers out of business and eventually lead to a single-payer system run by the government.

Scorched by Republican opposition to the idea of a new public program like Medicare, Senate Democrats are looking for a middle ground that would address the concerns of political moderates. One way they propose to do that is by requiring the public plan to resemble private insurance as much as possible.

“The public plan,” Mr. Schumer said Monday, “must be subject to the same regulations and requirements as all other plans” in the insurance market.

Democrats in Congress hope to shift the debate from the question of whether to create a public health insurance plan to the question of how it would work.

Health care isn’t my main focus as I think I told people, but I nonetheless I think there is a lot of interesting stuff going on here.

Firstly we’re seeing some real backbone from Senate Democrats, including the usual frustrating Max Baucus. Schumer is talking the talk and appears to be walking the walk and standing up to insurers.

On the negative side I’m confused by why government health care needs to be made worse, and what exactly this compromise entails. I mean so what if this leads to a single payer system, if the reason it leads to a single payer system is a private health insurance isn’t as good as the single payer system then why not adopt a single payer system? Since when is better health care a problem?

I’m interested to know what people think the key to understanding this is and what aspects of the issue you would like to see addressed by Congress?