Friday, May 29, 2009

Howard Dean on real universal healthcare and Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-HMO) "terrible idea"

A young(er) Howard Dean with one of Vermont's most important constituencies: cows.

Howard Dean spoke to Square State recently about all things universal healthcare. The highlights:

Just as in Colorado, earlier this year the nation began it's discussions on health care with hopeful signs (such as HR-676) that "Universal/Single Payer" care might finally get some traction. But recently the tone of D.C. has eroded to where people are getting arrested for disrupting committees by trying to get single payer plans to the table.
I asked Howard Dean if he felt that public option was getting a fair hearing from Sen. Baucus. He felt it was, but he was concerned that single-payer was not, because "I don't care what you say about single payer. It is much cheaper."

Was public option a stepping stone to single payer? "Well that depends on what the American people want. You know a lot of people already have a public system. It's called Medicare." He went on to say that people were fairly happy with Medicare, and if after using "cheaper and more reliable" government plans caused a large migration of accounts, he would be fine with that, but it was up to the people to decide.

What if it was not so reliable? What if the worst fears of opponents materialized. Were the fears of long wait times valid? "I don't think so, but that is the genius of the plan. If it doesn't work they can go back into the private system. If they like it they can keep it."


Sen. Ben Nelson has proposed a "trigger", where instead of adopting the reform, Congress would set goals for the insurance industry for seven years. As long as the goals were met, there would be no competing public plan. "That's a terrible idea," Dean said, "They will just change their behavior until the trigger runs out and go back to how they were."

Calling it "fake public option," Dean said that D.F.A. would actively fight against any such plan as being no public plan at all. The same went for any other plan that did not include a public option. "It wouldn't be reform. If we put more into a private system, we are just going to lose money."

Ben Nelson's just trying to ruin everyone's day, isn't he? Giving HMO's seven years before we offer a real public competitor? Give me a break.