Or so this man would have you believe.
As I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday, there’s simply no way a single-payer health initiative will ever get the backing it needs to succeed in either the House or Senate, and I think The President realizes this. But it’s a shame, a tragedy, and a travesty. It’s a Shamtragersty.
All joking aside, not having a nationalized health care program is untenable and unconscionable.
A single-payer system would put one single entity - the government - in charge of apportioning health care funds and managing coverage. Consequently, there would be one federal agency responsible for performing these specific tasks. But, unlike, say, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, this agency would actually serve an invaluable purpose.
Hospitals and physicians would still remain private. So you could continue to receive care from your chosen provider and he or she would get fully compensated by a single entity - the government (just like the local fire department, police department and post office). No rationing care, no co-payments, no unnecessary procedures, and no more morally repugnant practices by health insurance companies - like dropping patients retroactively for having a ”pre existing medical condition.”
In a PBS interview with Bill Moyers, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (I believe they’re accredited now), asserted that obviating the bureaucratic madness of health insurance providers would save approximately $400 billion a year.
President Obama, along with most House Democrats, are proposing a public health care option that can compete with the private health insurance companies. This would theoretically drive down the private health insurance premiums. You know, keep ‘em honest. But by advancing such a proposal, aren’t the Democrats implying that the private health insurance providers are, you know, sort of profiteering dickheads? Why not just completely eliminate an entity that for years has been literally bleeding millions of Americans to death?
But let’s not play stupid. Health insurance companies are businesses; their primary motive is to make massive piles of money. Which is precisely why they shouldn’t have anything to do with the distribution and management of our health and wellness. Would you want Halliburton running your local fire department? Exxon-Mobile in charge of your local school district?
Paul Krugman exquisitely illustrates this argument on his “Conscience of a Liberal” blog when he says:
This problem is made worse by the fact that actually paying for your health care is a loss from an insurers’ point of view — they actually refer to it as “medical costs.” This means both that insurers try to deny as many claims as possible, and that they try to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care. Both of these strategies use a lot of resources, which is why private insurance has much higher administrative costs than single-payer systems. And since there’s a widespread sense that our fellow citizens should get the care we need — not everyone agrees, but most do — this means that private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities.
Critics claim that putting the big, bad, scary federal government in charge of health care would be a cataclysmic mistake, since we’ve learned by listening to many a scholarly conservative, that the g-word is scarcely more than a euphemism for the leviathan of waste, inefficiency, and bureaucratic red tape.
First, a few comments on wasteful, ineffectual government. The combination of Republican anti-government propaganda and eight years of this guy flooding each and every federal regulatory agency with cronies, industrial big wigs, and glorified crooks has produced abysmally ineffective government and a U.S. populace that has grown increasingly skeptical of it.
Being circumspect of government is always a good thing. But rejecting its crucial role in a functional republic is foolish and politically immature. And, yes, I’m talking to you, Libertarians.
I liken this exact scenario to that of the leery - and interminably pie-eyed - citizens of Metropolis in the cinematic masterpiece Superman II. Let me set the stage: Following Evil Superman’s short and brutal reign, the world teeters on the brink of disaster. Just then, the real Superman finally returns from halfway across the globe (where he’s just finished bedding down his special lady friend, Lois). See, the people know the real Superman is essentially a decent guy, aside from the split personality and megalomania, but they just cannot seem to put their faith in him anymore. And these goodly citizens of Metropolis well know that this Superman isn’t the evil version, but they can’t shake the notion that the two are to some degree associated by virtue of their shared post. That is, until the real Superman saves the earth - AGAIN.
But the Evil Superman (Bush Jr.) is gone. As is Lex Luthor (Cheney). And now, free from the grips of an imbecilic prick and his diabolical puppet master, government can hopefully get back to the task of serving the greater interests of its people. It’s eminently possible: Just ask the Brits, the Canadians, the Belgians, the Swedes, the French (I know, I know: the French), the Germans, and the Swiss. While the governments of these countries might not be ideal (is there such a thing?), they all largely seem to avoid the abysmal social, political, and economic fiascos that somehow ultimately plague our quaint Shining City Upon a Hill.
And why is that? Because those governments have something in common. They hold the purse strings of an entire nation. Citizens pay more in taxes, but they’re also provided with cradle-to-grave security nets that mitigate many of the socioeconomic extremes that we experience today in the U.S. But universal health coverage goes beyond public policy in these countries. It’s ingrained in the social fabric of their citizens. For example, to Canadians, a system like ours is not only ineffective, inefficient, and expensive, but it’s also highly unethical.
What else do each of these aforementioned bastions of socialism have in common? You nailed it: They’re all countries in which the average life expectancy of their citizens exceeds those of us living in the U.S.
Hey, but we beat Slovenia!
Nevertheless, Americans share a different perspective, brought upon by a confluence of history and culture. We are the progenitors of Manifest Destiny. We are the homesteaders. We are the strong, the protectors, the guardians. We cling tenaciously to the conviction that each and every man is responsible for his house, his yard, and his family, and that the world beyond that patch of pesticide-soaked lawn in the front yard is beyond the purview of our responsibility. Ultimately, we don’t want a corrupt, ineffective, impotent government to solve our problems - ones that we should be able to remedy ourselves.
But times have changed. 14,000 workers every day lose their employee-based health coverage. And in the same interview with Moyers, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of the advocacy group, Public Citizen, said that nearly half of all U.S. bankruptcies last year were of the medical variety, and that two thirds of those were filed by individuals who already had health coverage. Dr. Wolf later added that over 20,000 U.S. citizens die each year due to a lack of adequate health coverage.
So, if anyone needs me, I’ll be at Urban Outfitters, purchasing myself a Che Guevarra T-shirt. Should I buy extra?