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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:45 PM
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The Next Failure of Health Care Reform
from CounterPunch:

The Next Failure of Health Care Reform

A major problem--if not the major problem--for many people living in the U.S. is the difficulty of accessing and paying for medical care when they are sick. For this reason, candidates in the presidential primaries of 2008--the Democrats more often than the Republicans--have been recounting stories about the health-related tragedies they have encountered in meetings with ordinary people around the country (an exercise conducted in the U.S. every four years, at presidential election time). These stories tell of the enormous difficulties and suffering faced by many people in their attempts to get the medical care they need. I have been around long enough--I was senior health advisor to Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primaries of 1984 and 1988--to know how frequently Democratic candidates, over the years, have referred to such cases. The only things that change are the names and faces in these human tragedies. Otherwise, the stories, year after year, are almost the same.

In the Democratic Party primaries of 1988, for example, candidate Michael Dukakis talked about a young single mother who had two jobs and still could not afford medical insurance for herself and her children. In 1992, Bill Clinton did the same, changing the story only slightly. This time it was the case of a woman with diabetes who could not get health insurance because of her chronic condition. And now, in the 2008 primaries, Hillary Rodham Clinton (whom I worked with on the White House Health Care Reform Task Force in 1993) describes a similar case. This time it is a single woman, with two daughters, who cannot pay her medical bills because her congenital heart defect makes it impossible for her to get medical insurance coverage. And Barack Obama describes similar cases, with the eloquence that characterizes all of his speeches. He frequently refers to his own mother, who had cancer and had to worry not only about her illness but about paying her medical bills.

All these cases are tragic and are representative of a situation faced by millions of people in the U.S. every year. But, I am afraid that unless the winning Democratic candidate, once elected president (and I hope he or she will be), develops a more comprehensive health care proposal than any of those put forward in the primaries so far, we will see the same situation continue. Democratic candidates in the 2012 primaries, and in the 2016 primaries, will still be referring to single mothers with chronic health conditions who cannot pay their medical bills. The proposals put forward by Obama and Clinton underestimate the gravity of the problem in the U.S. medical care sector. The situation is bad and is getting worse: the number of people who are uninsured and underinsured has been growing since 1978.

Let's start with the uninsured, those people who do not have any form of health benefits coverage. There were 21 million uninsured people in the U.S. in 1972. By 2006, that number had more than doubled to 47 million. And this increase has been independent of economic cycles. The number of uninsured grew by 3.4 million from 2004 to 2006, even as a resurgent economy raised incomes and lowered poverty rates. Meanwhile, during those years, the Democratic Party establishment distanced itself from any commitment to resolving these problems. Even though the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Democratic Party platforms included calls for health care benefits coverage for everyone (what is usually referred to as "universal health care"), that call was usually made without much conviction. In the primaries of 1988, when I was involved in preparing the Democratic platform, Dukakis (the winner of the primaries) resisted including universal health care in the party platform. He was afraid of being perceived as "too radical." He had to accept it, however, because Jesse Jackson agreed to support Dukakis (Jackson had 40% of the Democratic delegates at the Atlanta convention) only if the platform included this call for universal care. .....(more)

The complete piece is at:

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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. The Conyers bill HR 676, which was also supported by
former candidate Dennis Kucinich is the bill Congress and any future President should support. Right now it's sitting in committee and Nancy Pelosi isn't putting it on the calendar. If we should get a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, this is the bill that should be passed and not vetoed by the President. I wonder if Clinton and Obama will sign it if Congress passes it in the future.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. not if Big Pharma and Insurance Companies don't like it
which they won't. :(
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. This was what Edwards plan was about, using the free
market to squeeze them out of the business, then we could look at real universal health care. Medicare can be delivered for less money. The for profit insurers can't compete with Medicare and will have to drop out eventually if our dumb leaders don't give them subsidies like Hillaryplan is suggesting. I don't know if this is what Obama will do. I know Hillary wants a corporate friendly program and it won't work anymore than her original plan would. Congress won't pass anything that costly.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. They're both corporatists who want to keep the insurance
company profits healthy. I think Edwards had the only plan with a ghost of a chance, one that allowed people to do an end run around the insurance companies and buy into Medicare, instead.

Medicare is far from perfect and there's too much it doesn't cover. However, it's enough to keep people from being financially destroyed by a severe illness. Even having gold plated corporate insurance doesn't guarantee that much now.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I have Medicare and no it's not perfect in its present form
in which coverage is bare bones and relies on co-pays, but it does give me health care security, which is something that I never had with private insurance which changed in coverage and premiums with the whims of the insurer so you were never sure of the future of your health care.

Medicare though has the essentials in place. All it needs is more coverage, updated fee schedules and more funding. It can still be delivered to every person in America for less than any insurer can and it will cover everyone especially the sick who are the persons who need health care. These are the very people insurers don't want to cover in favor of the more profitable young and healthy.

Conyers plan does address these improvements. If you read the bill, you will see that it's a very good plan and doable.
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. I don't think this will ever get passed
I am a PDA person and I am all for single payer and I think Conyers and Kucinich are the best- but I just don't see Congress biting on this. Two of the sponsors are liberals from my state- Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore. Tammy is all gaga over Hillary Clinton's plan (Tammy is using her superdelegate vote for Clinton even though our district voted for Obama 65-35).

I don't see Clinton or Obama passing it because they have both taken big money from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

There is another option which you don't hear talked about as much and that is the state plans. Feingold and Graham have put together a bill called The State Based Health Care Reform Act
which would would launch pilot programs in several states to achieve coverage in the best way they see fit. States could use health savings accounts, single payer systems, expansion of current programs, or adopt completely new ideas in their efforts to cover the uninsured.

I think its going to happen, but it will be through a combination of changes over a long period of time, not one single upheaval.
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