Wednesday, April 01, 2009
At Last, Universal Payer on the Table
Senator Bernie Sanders (I -VT) has put a single payer health plan proposal on the table in the Senate. The House already has two versions of the moral solution to America's health care crisis. Seventy-two members have signed on to Rep. John Conyer's (D-MI) bill and there are other members supporting Rep. Jim McDermott's (D-WA) legislation. This is the first Senate bill since the late Paul Wellstone (D-MN) re-introduced single payer in the mid-90s. The politicos will have a hard time getting around the vocal support of health professionals for socially responsible legislation and not a business lobby sponsored kluge. The latest surveys show more than half of US doctors support a single payer system. Under the American Health Security Act of 2009 the funding is federal but the states will administer the program. Private health insurance will be replaced because the vaunted "invisible hand" of the market has failed to produce a viable system of private insurance. What it has created is a Frankenstein profit mechanism based on inequitable medical underwriting and administrative duplication. Supporters of a universal, single payer plan estimate that a government insurance monopoly will be able to drive down costs and save $400 billion annually, enough to cover every American with good, comprehensive care independent of their employment status. Community health centers will be fully funded and additional medical personnel trained under the plan. Barrack Obama once supported single payer health insurance before he became the 'Obamanon'. Let us hope he can still see the light through the glare of celebrity.