Tuesday, February 23, 2010
"Crunch time has come on a question central to the nation’s future, where an acknowledgment is needed that, when it comes to health, we’re all in this together. Pooling the risk among everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society. That’s what other developed societies do. And they don’t have 30 million plus uninsured.
Now, as I understand it, the Tea Party movement is angry about waste, bail-outs for the rich and spiraling debt. They detest big government. But if waste and debt are really what’s bothering them, how about the waste in the more than 1,800 daily health-care related personal bankruptcies, the 25 to 30 percent of some corporate insurers’ costs going on administration (versus 6 percent for Medicare), the sky-rocketing health premiums that are undermining U.S. corporations (and so taking jobs), the endless paperwork of private reimbursement procedures, and the needless deaths?
Americans don’t want a European nanny state — fine! But, as a lawyer friend, Manuel Wally, put it to me, 'When it comes to health it makes sense to involve government, which is accountable to the people, rather than corporations, which are accountable to shareholders.'
All the fear-mongering talk of 'nationalizing' 17 percent of the economy is nonsense. Government, through Medicare and Medicaid, is already administering almost half of American health care and doing so with less waste than the private sector. Per capita Medicare costs for common benefits grew 4.9 percent between 1998 and 2008, against 7.1 percent for private insurers. Why not offer Medicare as a choice — a choice — to everyone? Aren’t Republicans about choice?
The public option, not dead, would amount to recognition of shared interest in each other’s health and of the need to use America’s energies and resources better. It would involve 300 million people linking arms."
--Roger Cohen, "The Narcissus Society," NYT, 2/13/10