Healthcare: Presidential comparisons

Susan Blumenthal provided one of the best in-depth analysis of Presidential candidates health care plans, in objective, side-by-side comparison of all the candidates: Republican and Democrat.

In explaining the charts, she wrote:

With our current sick care system, Americans cannot afford — socially, politically, economically, or otherwise — to remain on the sidelines. We have a window of opportunity to establish a real health care system with the upcoming 2008 presidential election. It is up to the presidential candidates and the American public to bring health care concerns to the forefront, and engage in meaningful dialogue about various proposals to provide quality health care to all Americans. And then it is up to us to vote.

I’m not writing with either bias or bigotry when I describe the Republican plans as being almost completely non-existent. Most of the candidates vaguely mention something about working with the health care industry to ‘make it better’. Few see the need for universal care for all. Many emphasize how people need to take care of themselves. If a Republican is elected president, it is very doubtful that we’ll see any change–either moderate or meaningful–in health care or coverage.

Of the Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton has done the poorest job of addressing this issue, and I’ve reluctantly have had to drop support for her candidacy because of this. I’ve had to also re-think some of my ideas of a general single-payer universal health care plan, as supported by Dodd and Kucinich. Both provide no effective way to implement such, other than taxing the rich more.

Barak Obama and John Edwards really have done the best job of providing a fairly detailed description of what they would do, how they would do it, and how much it would cost. I respect what both have done in this regard, and their innovative plans.

However, I believe that John Edwards has the most effective plan. His concept of a state and federal Health Market to provide coverage for those who may not have it, or for those who do and believe such is better, is an effective way to begin easing this country into a true universal health care, single-payer system. It doesn’t eliminate all of the problems, true. For instance, doctors and hospitals have to maintain staff just to be able to figure out how each health care provider does their paperwork, and understanding what is, or isn’t, covered. In addition, there will be providers who integrate profit into their business model, and all profit that goes into the concept of providing insurance rather than care is ultimately not beneficial to the American people.

Still, the people of this country will not vote to federalize any private industry, even one most hold in disdain like the Health Insurance industry. We’ve been too deeply ingrained against such. By providing a competitive system where the need for profits for shareholders is removed from the business model, such plans should end up being ‘better’ than anything provided by anyone else. Allowing employers, employees, the self-employed, virtually anyone, access to Health Markets either will force the for-profit organizations into doing better, or eventually, gradually, ease them out of business.

As for the cost, what Edwards quotes does seem reasonable. Considering that we’re spending 120 billion a year in Iraq, once we pull out of that country, we could effectively transfer those funds over to health care and see few tax increases for the middle class, or loss of services in other areas of the government. Even the wealthier won’t have to give up their third homes, or fourth cars.

Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., Jessica B. Rubin, Michelle E. Treseler, Jefferson Lin, and David Mattos. U.S. Presidential Candidates’ Prescriptions for a Healthier Future: A Side-by-Side Comparison. Huffington Post 9 July 2007.

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