Thursday, November 23, 2006

Small Steps Towards Universal Health Care

The Oregonian ran an AP wire report today (which they appear to have not put online) about the Democrats supporting a plan to reduce medicare expenditures without reducing the number of people covered.
Under traditional Medicare, healthcare providers bill the government for the services they perform. But with ''Medicare Advantage'' managed care, the insurers get a set amount per person. Then, the insurers reimburse the people who provide the care.

Medicare is already far more efficient than health insurance companies spending far less on administrative costs. This would limit those administrative costs even more, proving that the private insurance industry cannot adequately supply health care to the American people. This might be able to get through Congress but Bush will veto it, and that's ok, its a good proactive step to show the American people that Democrats are serious about fixing health care in this country without jeopardizing the policy of universal health care at a time when we clearly cannot pass it. 2009 is my target date for something to be done, when the Democrats (warning, wishful thinking) pick up 2 more seats in the Senate, hold their House majority and gain the Presidency. Right now, small steps like this are a good policy for the Democrats to take, things that can make a big difference, that the Democrats can unite behind and the Republicans will oppose. This may well be a futile effort because of Bush's presence in the White House holding the veto pen, but it can send a clear message to the American people that Democrats are interested in solving this crisis where Republicans are not. I don't think the debate over universal health care should begin until we have the structural advantage to pass it, we cant risk losing the debate again when we know from the start that we lack the means to pass the program. I think this is something Democrats should be campaigning on, but we need to have some patience and wait for the moment when we can get it done before pushing legislation for universal health care.

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