March 18, 2009

Scenes from Obama's traveling insurance preservation healthcare forum:

Yesterday, presaging what is likely to be a sharp debate within the Democratic Party in the coming months, a good share of the crowd in this liberal state - as well as about 200 protesters outside - enthusiastically cheered for Canadian-style government-run healthcare, or at least an option to buy into a public insurance plan like Medicare.

Obama has said it is not politically feasible to get rid of private insurers, but in his campaign he proposed letting people choose to buy into a public insurance option - something insurers view as potentially fatal to their business.

Deborah Richter, a Vermont physician and advocate of a Medicare-for-all style system, said the country can no longer afford to squander precious healthcare dollars on administrative hassles associated with private insurance. If everyone is "deemed worthy" of insurance, then the government should come up with a single benefits package for everyone. "Why would we even need private insurance?" she said.

Patrick, serving as referee, gently suggested that the landmark 2006 Massachusetts healthcare law might offer a different route to the same goal.

"In Massachusetts, the only debate we used to have, for decades, . . . was: 'What's a perfect solution?' And if we can't get to that, nothing is worth trying," Patrick said.

Corporate Dems like Patrick and Obama are quite insistent that we do everything possible to preserve the existence (and profit margins) of insurance companies - which is no real solution at all.

Massachusetts eventually settled on a kind of hybrid solution that has expanded existing public programs and uses a combination of market reforms, regulations, and subsidies to help lower-income people afford private insurance.

I guess they forgot to mention how unhappy many Massachusetts doctors and consumers are with the plan - because it's more focused on making insurance companies happy!

DeParle asked how many people at the forum were uninsured. Only a couple of people raised their hands. The problem with a Medicare-for-all style system, she said, is that most people already have insurance and they just want it to cost less - but they're basically satisfied.

Only the relatively healthy are happy with the present system, because the real problems begin when you actually use your insurance - and find out how little it actually covers. (Ever check out your lifetime cancer benefits?) No, people aren't really "satisfied" with their insurance - they're simply resigned to the idea that this is as good as it gets.

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