These are my comments tonight to Scott Weidig’s post, “National Pharmacy, National Plans, National Health Care…

I share your sentiments. The thing that concerns me most, however, is the constitutionality of mandating people pay for coverage. I’m glad we’re seeing some states challenge this. I definitely think there’s consensus the system needs to change, but I’m not positive a bill this big will address the issues which need changing. It seems a simpler, shorter bill should work…

The biggest problem, in my view, is that our current system benefits corporations (including insurance companies and pharm companies) more than individuals. The best suggestion I’ve heard on health care [insurance] is that it should be handled similarly to electrical coops, which have an annual maximum they can take in profit. It’s not excessively modest, but it also isn’t open ended. If their profit for the year exceeds their cap, they return it to coop members. Medical care [insurance] fundamentally should not be a business with a quarterly profit motive like we see elsewhere. It’s great to have high quality care, but we SHOULD provide a basic level of care for everyone.

I think the biggest obstacle we face on both the health care front as well as other ones (including foreign policy and our continuing foreign wars) are the power and influence of corporations. We need to support programs like Change Congress to try and get at the heart of our political problems, which are corruption and large corporations being able to buy legislators and therefore legislation.

Fix Congress First

I agree with those campaigning now to call a convention.

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  • http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com Tom Degan

    The commentators keep reminding us that Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who tried to bring universal health care to the American people. That’s not quite true. He never really expressed the idea while he was in office. In 1912 Roosevelt had been out of office for four years when he attempted to reclaim the presidency from William Howard Taft, the man he had picked to succeed him. Once in office, Taft began to dismantle most of the progressive reforms that Teddy had put into place. When he sought the nomination once again, his campaign slogan was “a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States.” Part of the “Square Deal” was health care for all. He arrived at the convention that summer with all the delegates he needed (and then some) to seize the mantle of standard bearer. It was not to be. His party would betray the people by giving the nomination to Taft in spite of his victory. They had had enough of Theodore Roosevelt and his progressive reforms. 1912 was the year that the progressive wing of the Republican party died. He was the last great Republican president – the very last.

    A generation later TR’s distant cousin Franklin attempted to pick up the torch of universal health care. In his 1944 State of the Union address, he told the American people that his major goal for the post war world was national health insurance. Unfortunately for you and I, FDR did not live to see the war’s end. A film of that speech can be viewed in Michael Moore’s film, Capitalism: A Love Story. It’s is now out on DVD and is essential viewing.

    The new health care bill is not perfect – far from it – but as the old Chinese saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” There will be improvements made on it down the years – there absolutely needs to be – but this is a fairly good first step. We’re on our way! The Conservatives will whine, but that’s what they do best. They’ll whine just as they whined when Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just as they whined when Harry Truman desegregated the army in 1947, or when Franklin D. Roosevelt brought Social Security into being in 1935. They’ll whine just like they did when Woodrow Wilson tried to form the League of Nations in 1919 – or when Abraham Lincoln ended the institution of slavery in 1863! They whine a lot. Did you ever notice that?

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  • http://scottweidig.com Scott Weidig

    Wes,

    I agree the influence of PAC’s, corporations, and lobbyists are overwhelming in our current political environment. Governmental change is either extremely slow or violent and quick… both extremes have unfortunate consequences. However, with tackling an industry that is the 6th largest component of our economy I don’t think that a small bill will accomplish much overall… A simple one perhaps, but the scope needs to be so encompassing that the factors become overwhelming and too often simple inertia is enough to derail any change for the better.

    I know that this may be an odd example, but I always find it amazing when I think of the tobacco industry… Here is an industry whose end product in KNOWN to cause health issues and death… so much so that the actual product carries a warning label, a restriction in who can purchase the product, and the manufacturers by law need to set aside funding to specifically provide information and assistance for their consumers to stop using the very product they manufacturer…

    I also agree that the current system is in place to benefit the corporations… As they have been the ones to front all of the costs for research and development they worked hard to engineer a system that would benefit them. Additionally, even if we look at the “wellness” movement, while there is an overall benefit to the patient/consumer, the goal is to reduce costs for the healthcare company to transition that into profits to shareholders as opposed to reduced overall costs to the consumer. While I am not in the industry, I have consulted on a number of different industries and as a consumer it is always easier to pass on operating costs to the consumer than it is to sell to the board a reduction in profit because of a reduction in end user cost…

    If we look at this industry similarly to education, what is the best way to affect change? small structured increments or large committed sweeping change?

    @Tom – a man of history, I love that. While I hold conservative economic ideals, and liberal social ideals, this is not a one-sided argument where the liberal are seeking to effect change and the conservatives simply are going to whine… change the political power holders and you could very well hear liberals whining too… Unfortunately, the basic structure of our government and the basic beliefs of the two power parties force issues like health to polarize both the system and the people. Then rhetoric gets spewed as opposed to problem delineation and solutions… I do agree that this is a good start. However, the “update” to the bill today really was not anything substantive at all so I will be interested to see if like Taft the next legislation and administration seeks to dismantle the reforms begun here.

    As always, I enjoy our discourse! See you on the next topic.

    Scott

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