Saturday, June 20, 2009

National ReFAIL on Howard Dean and Healthcare

Howard Dean laughs at the National Review

For some reason I happened to be reading the long-time right wing magazine The National Review's website, and I happened to see this commentary about former Vermont Governor and DNC chief Howard Dean:

Not Surprisingly, Howard Dean Favors Public Health Plan [Sally Pipes]
Former governor of Vermont and chairman of the Democratic party Howard Dean, not surprisingly, endorses President Obama’s desire for a public health-plan option. He has been a supporter of a single-payer health-care system for years, and celebrating the idea as a stepping stone to a fully government-run system.

Dean is also a medical doctor, but his fervid support of a more politicized health-care system puts him in a distinct minority among physicians. The American Medical Association, broadly representative and hardly hard-line, came out decisively against the public option earlier this month.

There is much discussion in the administration and Congress about the public option and what it will mean for the health care of Americans. Everyone agrees that the goal is to achieve affordable, accessible, quality health care for all of us. The question is: How do we achieve the goal?

There are two visions for achieving this goal. One focuses on patient-centered solutions where doctors and patients are put in charge of their health care. The other vision focuses on increasing the role of government in our system. This is the vision of the president and Howard Dean. They want to take over the 53 percent of the system that government does not already control. In other words, they support “Medicare for All.”

To start with, Howard Dean is not a supporter of single-payer healthcare. While he has spoken kindly of single-payer systems in the past, and I wouldn't doubt that he wouldn't mind us having one, he has explicitly said that what he believes in is offering a system like Medicare to everyone, not requiring that everyone be in it and private insurance be kicked out of the picture altogether. That took like ten seconds of fact-checking on Google. Does the National Review Online not know how to use Google?

Secondly, I don't exactly see how a single-payer system or taking part in a public option would not be "patient-centered." Right now doctors and patients have to spend countless hours fighting with private insurers who are doing everything they can to not provide you with the coverage you paid for. We already have one single payer system -- Medicare -- which almost everyone who uses is happy with. It's not a matter of government bureaucrats taking over your healthcare, it's the fact that you'll now have a public plan that's efficient and designed to provide you care -- unlike private insurers which are designed with the perverse incentive to provide as little care as possible.

Lastly, the AMA is hardly "representative" of the opinions of the medical profession. According to peer-reviewed polling done by the Annals of Internal Medicine, 59% of doctors in the country back a single payer system. The AMA is just continuing its long history of opposing any real intrusion on insurance company profits.

The author, Sally Pipes, actually took part in a healthcare debate with Paul Krugman and others last September. Needless to say, her side got crushed.