Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Email to Keith Olberman

Subj: Another selling point of Medicare Part E that no one is mentioning... and Keith should

I've been a fan of this idea for a while (since Josh Marshall at talkingpointsmemo mentioned it), but I think many who are promoting this as "Medicare for everyone" are missing a massively powerful selling point that could push the debate and get us over the finish line.

It's this: it could save medicare.

Everyone loves medicare, or has to pretend to (if they are on the right). The only negative with medicare is that it's running out of money. Why?

Basically because it only allows those over 65 to participate. This is actually a bad idea; ask any private insurance company if they'd like to limit their customers only to those most likely to get sick. As an actuarial issue, it's pretty bad business.

By allowing younger people to "buy in" to medicare, we would fund the program via people who, statistically, are less likely to have expensive medical issues.

Save medicare! There's a selling point for ya. Why aren't Pelosi and her caucus promoting this aspect of medicare part e?

I guess because Keith has not mentioned it on Countdown yet. :) I think he should.
Scott L. Bain
skype: slbain9000

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Dividing Line

How big should the goverment be, and how deeply should it reach into our lives?

The extremes are, on the one hand, a goverment "so small you could drown it in a bathtub" (Grover Norquist) which is, was, and will likely be the goal of the neo-cons that dominated the Bush era.  In Thomas Franks' recent book The Wrecking Crew, he took this notion to the nth degree, and makes a fairly decent argument along these lines:  The Bush administration was not a failure, it was a success in that its real goal was to destroy the federal government.

On the other hand, we are told, the progressives believe that the answer to every problem is more taxation and centralized spending, and that this will inexorably lead to the socialist state with an enormous central government controlling the economy, health, commerce, travel, education and basically everything else.

It's been suggested by many (Thomas Jefferson among them) that the goverment should do for the people exactly those things (and only those things) that the people cannot do for themselves.  Whereas I agree that this is a seemingly reasonable dividing line between public and private concerns, what is often left out of the equation is that this measurement must be re-evaluated in the light of modern life.

For example, the widespread access to sophisitcated digital technology has certainly made people able to do certain things for themselves that they could never have done in the past.  On the other hand, there are problems now that individuals can do little to ameliorate on their own, which in the past didn't even exist: Global Warming comes to mind.

Also, we can share the burden on a problem without placing it in the hands of the government.  Fraternal organizations, mutual insurance, and organized religion are but a few examples.

I think the real question is separate from the government itself.  The government, after all, is a creation, not a natural force.  So, I'd say the evaluation we need to make, and remake as each age changes the forces in our lives, is what things we think we can do alone, and what things we must come together to accomplish.

To place this in the context of the current debate, where do we think Health Care fits?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Right to Health

There is much to be said for "the public option" in healthcare reform, though I suppose nobody has said it better or more convincingly than Paul Krugman recently did in the New York Times.

Still, I wonder if the real argument is not being made openly here.  Perhaps the real question is... should corporations be making a profit on people's health in the first place?

The notion of a mandated system, where you have to buy in whether you like it or not, is analagous to the system of car insurance.  Want to drive?  Be responsible and insure yourself and your car.  Don't want insurance?  Take public transportation.

If we take note that this really only works because there *is* public transportation, we get the point.  You can opt out because there is an option here.

You cannot decide not to "have health" or heath problems.  Well, I guess you can, but suicide is still illegal.  Since you have to deal with your health, then one cannot treat this like a personal choice (like, say, smoking).  The need for a "public transportation" option in order to mandate car insurance is even more sharply needed for health care if we're going to mandate health insurance.

"...and that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"... includes life.  Nobody is able to hold me up to their profit motive to ensure my liberty, why should they be able to in order for me to keep my life?

If life is a right, then health is a right.  Let's get the profit motive out of it entirely.  Let doctors and nurses and medical techs make a good living, certainly, but no market participation in this, the most basic human need.

People will say that the public option is just a step toward single payer.  Maybe.  Maybe a needed step.