Can Obama Win on Health Care?

barack-obama-healthcareThe president’s supporters have gotten nervous over poll slippage for his health care plan. That’s why he went on the offensive Wednesday, emphasizing the need to reform the current system. President Obama is fighting this battle on several fronts. Congressional Republicans want to see his plan go down, pure and simple. Jim DeMint isn’t the only one hoping this is Obama’s “Waterloo”. Despite their minority status, they’re pressing their opposition in part by playing the “Fear of the Unknown” card.

What we have is bad, their argument goes, but what Obama is proposing is worse. Plus, they have a couple of non partisan analyses that say his plan won’t save the money he says it will. Next on the list are so-called “Blue Dog Democrats”, who seem to willing to break ranks over issues of cost, and whether new taxes will have to be levied to pay for the plan.

Some of these folks represent constituents who are scared of government involvement in their health care decisions. President Obama tried to mollify them Wednesday, saying his plan won’t make Uncle Sam America’s doctor. To make matters worse, an awful lot of Americans don’t know the difference between the Obama health care plan, and the versions currently being taken up by the House and Senate. Even some of his congressional allies are saying he needs to trim his sails and accept a compromise solution.

I would argue differently. While Americans may be confused about the current competing plans, they do know what single payer means. And that’s the problem. Barack Obama missed a singular opportunity by not advocating for universal, single payer health coverage for all Americans. Telling the American people “If you’re sick, you’ll be treated, no matter what” would present a clear choice that most people can understand and support. Keep things as they are, and risk having to declare bankruptcy even with insurance, or move to a universal, single payer plan that while not perfect, is measurably better than what exists now.

Opponents would trot out their “socialized medicine” arguments. So what? President Obama could then point to the dramatically lower administrative costs associated with Medicaid and Medicare as opposed to the current system. They holler about Britain, and the supposed shortcomings of their system. I could tell them of one personal experience about that.

On a visit to London some time ago, my daughter was injured by a painting that fell on her head in our hotel room. My wife and I were panicked. What to do? Fortunately, we were staying down the street from a hospital. We took her there, and waited anxiously while she was examined and treated. It took about three hours. Never once were we asked for an insurance card, or for that matter, whether we were British citizens (my wife is). She received a number of stitches, but in the end they told us she’d be fine.

I asked how much this treatment would cost, preparing for the worst. To my utter amazement, the answer was “Nothing. The treatment is free”. It was my first, and to date only experience with universal health care.

What about you? Should the nation be arguing about health care reform, or should we take the giant leap to universal health care?

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5 Comments

  1. Your right about two things. It’s about Obama and it’s about winning.

  2. Good blog posting and good comment by TD.
    Singe-payer.
    There are good critiques of the Obama (vague) plan, including the Public Option,
    which seems to be MA gone national. The group Physicians for A National Health Care Program has a good website: http://www.pnhp.org (For this blog, I do my hw before posting.

  3. Good morning Mark. sanda’s linkie is a good one. I’ve wrote about them before.

    I just wanted to say that I’ve worked with Brits and Italians who would FLY HOME for anything more than minor care! Still cheaper and quality too.

  4. So let me get this straight. Your daughter received healthcare that was free for you, but the British citizens had to pay for it themselves, and you consider that a fair system?

    Socialized medicine is the purest form of plunder. It creates artificial demand and creates a broken market where healthcare providers have no disincentive preventing them from raising the costs of their services. This is entry-level economics.

    • First of all, I was prepared to pay. They said it was free of charge, not me. Secondly, my wife is a British citizen. Thirdly, the socialized medicine you speak of was instituted during Winston Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister. BTW, my daughter’s injury was hardly artificial demand. Have you ever had a medical emergency in a country that has universal health care? Or are you reading from a playbook?


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