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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Medicare for All? O.K., Compromise: Medicare for Kids

[Updated 11:55 CDT] I'm still firmly in the Kucinich-Weiner-Newquist-McGovern camp: Medicare for all is the simplest, most sensible, most moral health care reform option available. McGovern expands on thoughts reported on Mount Blogmore last month in a powerful argument for universal Medicare in Friday's Washington Post:

Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It's wonderful. But I would have appreciated it even more if my wife and children and I had had such health-care coverage when we were younger. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive. Removing the payments now going to the insurance corporations would considerably offset the tax increase necessary to cover all Americans.

I don't feel as though the government is meddling in my life when it pays my doctor and hospital fees. There are some things the government does that I don't like -- most notably getting us into needless wars that cost many times what health care for all Americans would cost. Investing in the health of our citizens will enhance the well-being and security of the nation [George McGovern, "It's Simple: Medicare for All," Washington Post, 2009.09.11].

Dang: how about we run McGovern against Thune... or even against SHS in the primary to get her talking like a Democrat again?

If universal Medicare is too much for you, then how about a compromise? Bill Fleming points to a powerful, intelligent argument from Sam Hurst of The Dakota Day that current health care reforms are mostly bipartisan capitulation to big money interests and that we should dump current proposals for something much simpler: Medicare for every child in America. Parts I like:

Considering the Democrats' compulsive advocacy of rights, it seems odd that President Obama never mentions health security as a basic human right. The lions of pre-Clintonian liberalism--Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Senator Ted Kennedy--all advocated universal health care as a fundamental human right essential to the nation's security. Let the right wing argue that children have no right to health care. Let the conservative movement argue that "pre-existing conditions" are a necessary evil of market competition. Let Republicans argue to senior citizens that they want to cut Medicare because it is "socialistic". Let the Republicans argue that faceless bureaucrats from private insurance companies are more sensitive and efficient than faceless administrators from Medicare who have a proven track record over forty-five years. Let conservatives argue that runaway inflation in the private health market is a by-product of free market competition.

...[T]he creation of a health system that will improve the quality and cost of care for children is an immediate investment in the next generation, not a future deficit. A child who grows up healthy and well-educated is far more able to contribute to society and her own well-being than a child who grows up unhealthy and poorly educated. Conservatives ask us to believe that civilization prospers by reducing our commitment to the health and education of children now so that when those children grow up to become middle-aged smokers with low-wage jobs in an economy they are uneducated to compete in, they will have their existential freedom.

...Children are the way out of the mess that Congress has created, and they are our path to the future, but children have no voice, and so far their grandparents have refused to stand up for them. It's that simple.

[Sam Hurst, "Health Care Battle Needs a Dose of Simplicity," The Dakota Day, 2009.09.07]

Do read Hurst's full argument. Do show it to the Glenn Beck histrionicists who say they're out teabagging for their grandkids. Show it to your Congresspeople and ask them whom they serve: a few thousand insurance execs, or 300 million Americans and future generations?

Update 14:50 CDT: See also Nicholas Kristof's op-ed in today's NYTimes. Hard-working American gal has lupus, dies early because no one would insure her. Is that what America stands for?


  1. Steve Sibson9/14/2009 6:27 AM


    You forgot to mention that Medicare is going broke, despite shifting a large portion of its costs to those who have private insurance.

  2. Well gee, Steve: it stands to reason that if we get rid of private insurance, Medicare won't be able to rely on that crutch, and it will develop independence and responsibility.

  3. Steve Sibson9/14/2009 8:46 PM

    I agree with the independence part, that would be true of a government monopoly. But such a communist state is not the responsible thing to do.

  4. But that communist program (if it's communism) would enable a great capitalist re-awakening, as independent entrepreneurs would be free to pursue their dreams instead of sticking with crappy jobs just to keep their health insurance. Come on, Steve, you know you love this idea! Put Karl Marx to work for Adam Smith!

  5. "... independent entrepreneurs would be free to pursue their dreams instead of sticking with crappy jobs just to keep their health insurance."

    Cory, that is a great point. It's one of the main reasons that I would favor completely socialized medicine -- with rigorous oversight to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.

    I watched Fox News last night (a few minutes of O'Reilly) and Karl Rove said that he couldn't understand President Obama's claim that a $900-billion spending program will help to alleviate our long-term debt.

    Here's the operative word, Karl:


    Let us invest in better health for all, invest in giving entrepreneurs the freedom to break free of lousy "jobs" and start true "careers," invest in potential immigration of new talent that might otherwise be scared off by our current Byzantine health-care racket (I ought to know, for I live in Neutrinoville, the next Eureka!) ... Sow once, reap three times.

    Oddly, I share the sentiments of the "tea party" set, and also those of Karl Rove, who suspect that the Dems have a socialist agenda. I'm against socialism in general, but on the issue of health care, I don't think that any of the proposals now being considered goes far enough.

  6. That's the key, Stan: pragmatism over ideology. I don't like hospitals, and I wouldn't want to spend all my time in one, but sometimes, going to the hospital is the best course of action. Ditto socialism: it's o.k. to not like it and generally try to avoid it, but you can still acknowledge that sometimes, socialism is the best solution.

    I can say something similar about capitalism. I like the free market, but to elevate it to a sacred, inviolable principle is silly, since sometimes capitalism creates problems that require a socialist solution.


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