Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

True health care reform requires a single-payer system

President Obama’s push to make minor changes to U.S. health care policy has the demagogues out in full force.

Conservative talk radio is all aquiver about Obama’s and the Democrats’ efforts to cram “socialized medicine” down the throats of the U.S. public.

Republican senators and representatives are making speeches about how passing Obama’s health care plan will be the end of the world as we know it, which is the same thing Obama and the Democrats say will happen if the plan isn’t passed now.

It’s all horse puckey.

It’s much ado about nothing because Obama’s plan doesn’t do much.

Though Obama is touting his plan as major reform, it’s not. It’s tinkering on the margins.

The stated goal is to provide health insurance to about 46 million Americans who don’t have any. Except most analyses of Obama’s plan show that it comes up about 16 million people short.

It also does little to fix many of the things that are wrong with the system, such as runaway costs, monopolistic drug pricing, exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums and Byzantine rules and laws that vary from state to state, to name a few.

If Obama was really serious about reforming the entire system he could simply say that he wants to make Medicare available to everyone.

It would take a tax increase to pay for it but that increase would be equal to or less than the hundreds of billions of dollars Americans already spend each year on insurance premiums, deductibles and copays.

And some of the tax increase would be offset by businesses being freed from the burden of paying insurance premiums for their workers and the need for large human resources staff to handle employee benefits claims.

Imagine the economic stimulus if businesses suddenly had hundreds of billions of dollars a year to spend on salaries, new employees, plant expansions and the like instead of paying all that money to health insurance companies.

Extending Medicare to everyone also would help reduce costs because doctors’ offices and hospitals would no longer need enormous billing departments to process the claims for dozens of different health plans.

As for socialized medicine, about 120 million Americans, or about 1 in 3, already get their health care or insurance paid for or subsidized by taxpayers:

  • 59 million Medicaid recipients
  • 44 million Medicare recipients
  • 10 millionĀ  local, state and federal government employees
  • 6 million U.S. military veterans
  • 2.5 million active U.S. military personnel
  • And 2.3 million federal and state prisoners

Adding the rest of the country to the list is only fair.

True reform must start with a single-payer system. From there, other problems and cost elevators can be tackled one at a time.

But that kind of reform will never happen. The health care industrial complex makes sure it crushes any government action that puts its billions of dollars in annual profits at risk.

Which is why Obama crafted this goofy plan that appears to do much but does very little in terms of reform.

So as the blowhards try to froth the masses into a lather about the destruction of the American way of life, pay no attention. Our health care system will still suck no matter the outcome.

More’s the pity.

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