Health carnage system

What really gets me about the health care debate in this country is that so many people are willing to continue tolerating or even supporting a system that almost everyone believes is broken and unsustainable.

At the federal level, President Bush and the Republican minority caucuses in the House and Senate are holding the line on the SCHIP health care program for uninsured children. This program used to enjoy bipartisan support, but it works just a bit too well. So well that it begs the question why we aren’t moving our whole system over to a universal single-payer form of delivering health care. The question has an easy answer: We don’t because the insurance industry is one of the most powerful political forces in the country. A universal system would mean not just a bad year, but something akin to their utter destruction. So we get to hear bogus lines about “socialized medicine” while many suffer with no health insurance or not enough protection if they get sick.

Generally, all you have to do to see what’s wrong with the system is to talk to people who have to use health care services regularly. Insurance doesn’t cover enough; anyone without insurance will see years shaved off their life; if you get sick, you become an indentured servant to your current employer. God help the self-employed or small businesses. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Doctors, businesses, nurses, policy leaders and especially patients know that something must be done. Even without going all the way to single-payer, there are affordable ways to cover every American. Politicians are going to have to vote against the powerful insurance lobby to get this done. This is going to take some courage.

Democrats are trying to override Bush’s veto of SCHIP but they will probably fall short. This is a big election issue for 2008.
I’m working on a column for Nov. 4 on this topic.

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