Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Someone Finally States The Obvious

Theodore Roszak's op-ed piece in today's Los Angeles Times states with stunning clarity the most sensible, most workable, and most elegant solution to the health care reform question: make Medicare available to all.

So why has it not occurred to the champions of reform that instead of telling people that the public option is "like Medicare," we might simply let the public option be Medicare? That would reduce all the complexities to one clear-cut public-option solution: Amend Medicare so that it will be available to everyone regardless of age.

Since 1951, the self-employed have been able to buy into Social Security; currently about 9 million of them are in the system. Why not remove the age restriction on Medicare and let everybody buy in who wants to buy in? Medicare provides a very elusive target for right-wing vilification or for those who seek to make reform look so complex that we must wait an additional 20 years to change the system. It is a time-tested program that people know and trust. It has an exemplary track record for low-overhead administration. Medicare is already the most successful cost-control program we have, and it can be made more effective still. (There are estimates that fraud in the system costs over $60 billion a year -- a serious but fixable flaw that accounts for enough money to keep the system solvent.)

Above all, it's here. Its administrative procedures and personnel are in place. Unlike health co-ops -- which remain a mystery to most of us -- Medicare needs only to be expanded, which has to be cheaper than starting from square one. ...

If you're under 65 and want the Medicare option, you would have to pay a designated premium, which would have to be high enough to cover the costs of the expanded coverage. But it is bound to be lower than any private plan. (Seniors would still be covered, without paying a premium, as they are now.) ...

Medicare excludes no one for prior conditions; it is portable and stays with you for a lifetime. Worried seniors may actually like seeing Medicare get bigger and take in more money. That would produce a more durable program that's better able to bargain with providers and pharmaceutical companies. Even Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats may find it more acceptable to vote for an enlarged Medicare than for another public option. And as a bone to the insurance industry, those covered by expanded Medicare, like those covered by classic Medicare, could buy private supplementary insurance plans to pay for whatever remains uncovered.

There: how difficult was that? In just a few column inches (rather than a 1000 page bill written in bureaucratese) Mr. Roszak has distilled a workable plan that should satisfy just about every citizen in the US. It even contains "a bone" for private insurance companies.

Universal health care access: it's not just for Europe anymore.



Blogger Tom Degan said...

Hey, Democrats! Although I left your silly party over a decade ago, my heart is still essentially with your platform and agenda. That being said, I would ask all of you to think of me as Dr. Degan, your loving and trusted family veterinarian. After a complete and thorough examination of your beloved pets, it grieves me to offer you this final diagnosis:

Your Blue Dogs must be put to sleep.

The Democrats are not going to distinguish their party by trying to sell themselves as Republican Lite. They're not going to turn America around by foolishly preserving the policies of the last thirty years. They need to educate their constituency by showing them the folly of their abhorrence of things "Left" and "Liberal". Three-quarters-of-a-century ago, American democracy was saved by a government that was decidedly left-of center in all but a few areas. It can happen again. But it's only going to happen if WEEDA PEEPOLE refuse to turn right at the next crossroad. It is only down the road.

Now if you'll excuse me, Dr. Degan has some Blue Dogs on his table that need to be put out of our misery.


Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

5:38 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Thom Hartmann has, over the last week or so, been pushing something similar (I've been busy and haven't gotten to read the piece yet, link probably on his site somewhere) in both pixel and radio formats--"Medicare Part E (for Everyone)".

But this is exactly the kind of synergy needed. C'mon, "friendly" media-types (Paul K and Rachel M, I'm looking at you)...a word from y'all would work wonders...

7:39 AM  
Blogger Tom Degan said...

Isn't Hartmann great? His is one of the few intelligent voices on the AM today. Thank you for that tip, Anna. I'll be sure to look into it.

All the best,

Tom Degan

7:49 AM  

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