Sunday, June 7, 2009


The New York Times has its main story today a report by Sheryl Gay Stolberg on Obama's intentions to wade into the nuts and bolts of the Democrats' proposals on universal health insurance and push universal health insurance coverage. Many Democrats, including myself, want a universal single-payor health insurance plan run by the government. "Single payor" means that the government, after collecting premiums from enrollees, would negotiate rates and payments to all health providers, such as physicians and hospitals.

Reports Stolberg:

"Mindful of the failures of former President Bill Clinton, whose intricate proposal for universal care collapsed on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, Mr. Obama until now had charted a different course, setting forth broad principles and concentrating on bringing disparate factions — doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, labor unions — to the negotiating table.

"But Mr. Obama has grown concerned that he is losing the debate over certain policy prescriptions he favors, like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector, said one Democrat familiar with his thinking. With Congress beginning a burst of work on the measure, top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp."

It is about time. So far, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, head of the Senate Finance committee which is drawing up plans on health care, has refused to entertain a government-run plan featuring single-payor characteristics. Baucus has even ejected groups of physicians and nurses who have protested at senate hearings about the lack of consideration for such an option. There are some 40 million Americans without any health insurance. This is a huge political scandal in a country as rich and productive as the U.S. Many Republicans as well as insurance companies would be happy to leave the situation as it is, or as George Bush once said, allow these uninsured to receive their health needs in the emergency rooms of local hospitals. But this is a cruel and inhumane solution to the problem of health care. Obama needs to get involved and push health insurance coverage for all before it is too late.

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