Health Care and the Campaign

Edwards Takes the Lead on Health Care

John Edwards jumped ahead of the other designated major candidates in proposing a detailed plan to get to universal coverage. (Representative Dennis Kucinich has put forward a universal Medicare plan, but the media have largely opted to ignore his candidacy.)

This is a serious plan. What I find most interesting (agreeing with Paul Krugman) is the proposal to create a public Medicare type system that any individual or employer can buy into. [Cheap political advice for the Edwards campaign: hype this item to the moon as a small business friendly proposal. Small businesses hate to deal with insurers who can raise their premiums by ridiculous amounts, especially if one of their workers develops a serious illness.] This sets up a head to head competition between the public system and private insurers. We should all benefit from this sort of competition.

–Dean Baker, American Prospect

I wanted to include this because I am feeling cautiously hopeful that, whatever else might happen, the next presidential cycle may well put single payer health care back on the national agenda. We are arguably about three or four decades behind the rest of the industrialized world on this issue, and the range of parties who would benefit ranges from the very poorest to the largest corporations.

So you would think that this is a no-brainier for both Republican and Democrat. One problem is that the idea of a single payer plan counters the myth of the efficiency of the private sector. “Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer,” Physicians for a National Health Program has notes, “would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.”

What’s creepy, of course, is that the current neo-conservative brand of Republican seems too utterly disconnected from economic and social reality to get this, as the recent budget proposal indicates. “A consensus is developing among politically and ideologically diverse organizations and policymakers that all children should have health coverage,” writes Dave Lemmon of Families USA. “Not only is the President clearly out of step, but he is heading in the wrong direction.” Senators Clinton and O’Bama take note.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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