Monday, June 22, 2009

Robert Kuttner (Paraphrased): So Who's Got the Guts To Propose the Actual Solution For Universal Healthcare?

Robert Kuttner sounds off about why a public option in healthcare is really just the first step in a much longer battle:

Also, as my American Prospect colleague Paul Starr warns, a mixed system with a public option effectively invites the most expensive and hard-to-treat people to opt for the public plan, while private insurers will seek to insure the young and the healthy. This is a familiar problem known as adverse selection. The private insurers will then smugly point out that the public plan is less "efficient," when in fact it simply will have a more costly population. The only way to avoid this problem is to have everyone in the same universal plan--what's otherwise known as a single-payer plan.

The public option is a not-very-good second best--because our leading liberal politicians lack the nerve to embrace the one reform that simultaneously solves the problem of cost, quality, and universal inclusion. The policy that dare not speak its name is of course comprehensive national health insurance, or Medicare-for-All. I try to avoid using the term "single payer," because a technical, policy-wonk phrase not understood by most civilians has become insider shorthand for national health insurance. Let's call the thing by its rightful name. Medicare-for-All is something regular people understand.

Unfortunately, the ugly faces of the lobbying operations of the health insurance industry have successfully knocked single payer off the table for now. But they'd better not let down their guard, because all of us advocating what would actually solve this healthcare crisis once and for all will not shut up.*

*Heck, Obama used to be one of us.