The president did a beautiful job of doing two out of three things last night regarding health care.
First, he did a great job describing the problem—the human and economic impact of not correcting the dysfunctional health care system. He was also right to point out the gluttonous greed of the insurance industry. While the health care crisis grew they were increasing their profits—$2.4 billion in 2000 to $12.7 billion in 2007—every year they increased profits literally tens of thousands of Americans died from lack of health care and went tens of thousands more went bankrupt because the health insurance they had did not cover them adequately.
Second, he described the right end goals—cover everyone and control costs.
But, he failed to describe the policy to get us there. It is becoming more and more evident as the Congress goes through contortions to find a way to cover people and control costs that a multi-payer, employment-based system will not work. The bill will fail on both counts: it will not cover everyone and it will not control costs. It will make improvements in each but not enough for the money being spent and for the negative impacts that will continue if the bill passes. Indeed, the bill will hurt the economy, almost insuring a jobless recovery because of the mandates on small businesses and the surtax if they fail to provide health insurance to all employees. President Obama was right when he said in response to NBC’s Chuck Todd that only a single payer system will cover everyone. It is also true that only a single payer system will control costs.
The president has also been right to say in town hall meetings that single payer is not socialized medicine. In fact, it takes the most efficient method of paying—single payer—and combines it with a marketplace where there would be more choice than we have today—more choices of doctors, health care and hospitals/clinics. And, people would have a much easier choice changing jobs and it would be much easier for employers to hire new employees. Single payer is an immediate positive for the economy while employment-based, multi-payer will be a detriment.
I’m sure the president knows that single payer is the right solution. He is too smart not to. This current bill will either not pass or not solve the health care crisis if it does pass. The president needs to back away from it, pivot to single payer and make that THE election year issue of 2010. It will be a winning issue, going after the corrupt and unpopular insurance, HMO and pharmaceutical industries. Sadly, the current approach will be an election year anchor around Democrats necks—too costly, inadequate and too corrupt a pay-off to the insurance industry. This bill transfers wealth from working people and small businesses, as well as cuts in health care for the poor and elderly to the insurance industry—a trillion dollars a year in new revenue (50 million uninsured being forced to buy expensive insurance equals more than a trillion annually).
Time for a mid-course correction now that we have seen the details of an employment-based, multi-payer system.