Buckle Up for Round 2

By David Brooks
The New York Times
January 6, 2011

Over all, there is a strong likelihood that the current health care law will face an existential threat over the next five years. Each party should be preparing contingency plans.

After the trauma of the last two years, many people wish the issue would go away. But it’s not going away, especially since costs will continue to rise.

When the crisis comes, Democrats will face an interesting choice — to patch the Obama system or try to replace it with something bigger. The administration may want a patch, but by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1, according to a CNN poll, Democratic voters would prefer a more ambitious law. Liberals could logically say that the mistake was trying to create a hybrid system, rather than moving straight to a single-payer one.



ObamaCare Repeal: GOP Should Be Careful What It Wishes For

By Robert B. Reich
The Wall Street Journal
January 7, 2011

Nonetheless, there’s a great irony in the Republican assault. The federal government wouldn’t be nearly as vulnerable to these political and legal obstacles had the health-care law been built upon the framework of Social Security or Medicare — public insurance financed by payroll taxes — as many Democrats had initially urged. Not only are these programs enormously popular — “Don’t take away my Medicare!” was a rallying cry among some conservative populists during the debates over the health-care law — but they also rest on a more widely accepted relationship among the individual, the government and the market.

Americans are accustomed to paying for public insurance through their payroll taxes. Such payments aren’t viewed as federal mandates that encroach upon individual freedoms, or as payoffs to private companies likely to make even more money from mandatory purchases of their products, but as well-deserved entitlements.

Set against this background, the current Republican attack on mandatory coverage is curious because it raises the essential question of how society would otherwise spread health-care risks. If successful — either in Congress or in the courts — a Republican victory could turn into a Pyrrhic one by opening the way to the alternative model, based on the system Americans seem to prefer: payroll taxes and public insurance.



By Don McCanne, MD

Above are yet two more examples of a common theme. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and liberal Berkeley Professor Robert Reich both imply that the opposition to the government mandate to purchase expensive private health plans may drive us to a much more logical and effective solution for financing health care: single payer (public insurance financed by taxes).

If so many individuals across the political spectrum believe that single payer is likely the inevitable outcome then why aren’t we taking a more serious look at it right now, before people are dragged, screaming and kicking, and then locked into the private insurance exchanges?

Carrying the metaphor further, their screaming should die down by the time they are transferred to the paupers’ prisons.

Metaphors are often used to appeal to the emotions. In this instance, it certainly isn’t humor. There is nothing funny about a government mandate that forces you to buy an overpriced private insurance product that takes away your choices in health care.

So which emotion? Depression? Anger? Rage? We have just seen once again the potential for tragic consequences of the latter. Please. Let’s fix our health care financing system before we’re all in a rage.

Re-posted with permission from pnhp.org.