Monday, February 14, 2005

SS gives us an opening: Progressives can win on Health Care

Republicans talking about a crisis in Social Security can be turned to the advantage of progressives, if we only have strong leadership. We must respond to talk of a crisis by pointing out that
  • There is a looming fiscal crisis in the US, but it isn't Social Security, it's medicare.

  • The dimensions of the upcoming medicare shortfall dwarfs any possible SS shortfall by an order of magnitude.

  • The Republicans have no plan to address this tide of red ink.

  • The only realistic plan is national health insurance.
Yes, I know that the Democrats got burned on health care under Clinton, but we must try again, and get it right this time. Getting it wrong can literally bankrupt the nation, and the Republicans are surely getting it wrong. Last year's Medicaid drug benefit is a seriously flawed bill that will end up costing the US trillions and still will do next to nothing to hold down skyrocketing drug prices. Millions of Americans are uninsured or underinsured. A single catastrophic illness can send the average American family into bankruptcy. This is true even for families with health insurance. What are the Republicans doing about it? Trying to make it more difficult for average people to declare bankruptcy. What starker evidence is needed that Republicans are not on the side of average American families?

What the Democrats need to do is to offer every American health regardless of income. We have to propose using the power of single-payer health care to force drug companies to the bargaining table to lower drug costs. This can work---it works in Canada, it works in Europe. In the US, it has worked to keep costs down for Veteran's Hospitals. We know it can work, but it isn't being tried because of opposition from
  • drug companies

  • insurance companies

  • HMOs
Democrats have to bite the bullet and propose national health care. And it can't be some kind of Frankenstein's monster sewed together using the existing health insurance network---that network is broken. It is the problem, not the solution. We have to be willing to take on the powerful drug, insurance, and HMO interests. We have to be willing to fight. The money is of course on the other side, but I really think that we can get the voters---the vast majority of them---on our side if we do it right.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

I hope democrats can help fix health care and help provide health insurance for all.

11:50 PM  

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