Thursday, July 5, 2007

Healthcare and Medicare...Inextricably Linked

As the years pass and healthcare costs continue to skyrocket unchecked, it’s become clear we can’t fulfill our goal of preserving Medicare without system wide healthcare reform. So, that brings us to the universal healthcare debate. The Bush administration opposes this idea because, as we’ve seen with the privatization of Medicare and the on-going attempts to privatize Social Security, this administration’s basic philosophy can be summed up this way: Government oversight…bad. Private industry control…good. Economist Dean Baker says:

"The debate is silly, because the level of government involvement is not the issue. The real issue is the extent to which the health care industry – the insurance companies, the drug companies, and the medical equipment companies – will be allowed to rip off the public.

The government does not have to dictate anything. It can just give people a choice that they don’t currently have: specifically the option for every individual and employer to buy into a government-run Medicare type plan. Such a plan would likely offer care at a considerably lower cost than private insurers since it won’t have to pay high CEO salaries, marketing expenses, and dividends to shareholders. That is why the traditional Medicare program always wipes the floor when it competes on a level playing field with private insurers. (This is also the reason the private insurers insist on large subsidies from Medicare – they can’t compete.)"

Dean goes on to talk about the privatization of Medicare, Part D and industry subsidies which are speeding Medicare’s insolvency while pouring billions into insurers coffers. His full post is on TPM Cafe and is a must-read for anyone interested in healthcare reform, Medicare and the price we’re all paying for this administration’s privatization policies.

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