The love child of Rube Goldberg and Hillarycare, also known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care plan, continues to dominate the national health-care debates. Some background.

One day removed from the unveiling of this incredibly complex legislation, here’s the single-payer analysis: if this behemoth is what’s needed to keep the current health care system limping along, than the simplicity, elegance, and proven merit of a single-payer health care system becomes THE obvious alternative.  In other single-payer news, health care costs remain out-of-control, the Presidential candidates will have to make peace with universal health care, and voices in the states continue their push for single-payer.

Brought to you by the National Nurses Organizing Committee as we organize to make 2007 the Year of Single-Payer Healthcare.
The New Republic lauds Schwarzenegger for realizing the political necessity of addressing universal care–even if this plan fails at it.  Jonathan Cohn provides us some interesting analogies with Hillarycare:

This is one reason that, paradoxically, plans like Schwarzenegger’s–which seek to graft universal coverage onto the existing private insurance system, rather than create a single-payer plan that would supplant private insurance altogether–may actually be as hard, if not harder, to accomplish politically…. The same thing is true nationally. Although Schwarzenegger would surely resist the comparison, his plan has more than a few elements in common with the Clinton health-care plan. The architects of that scheme tried very hard to come up with something that would please various stakeholders. That’s a big reason that they, like Schwarzenegger, rejected calls for a single-payer system and settled instead on a proposal in which most people would continue to get insurance through the private sector. Yet, to their dismay, few of those stakeholders became enthusiastic supporters of the Clinton health-care plan. In fact, quite a few attacked it, pretty much sealing its defeat. It’s easy to imagine a similar scenario playing out here.  

In the LA Times, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, a hero for health activists everywhere, lays out the reasons that Schwarzencare and similar fail where a single-payer system works at providing universal care:

Unfortunately, that plan and two others — state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata’s SB 48 and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez’s AB 13 — are short-term solutions that have the potential to expand coverage but at the end of the day can’t be relied on to achieve what 80% of Californians say they want: a government guarantee of access to affordable healthcare coverage in the state.

Deborah Burger, RN, President of the National Nurses Organizing Committee pens a Ventura County Star Op-ed listing the top 10 reasons a single-payer health care system is far superior to Schwarzencare.

Meanwhile, Chorneau and Colliver in the San Francisco Chronicle hone in on the real problem with the individual mandates, employer mandates, HSA’s and other stop-gap health care measures: costs continue to spiral wildly, while more risk and cost is shunted onto the individual.  Bad enough on its own–in terms of unaffordable care and bankrupt families–but also a major drag on American economic performance.  The “individual mandate” piece, for example, requires everyone to purchase health insurance–a “forced market” where consumers have no idea what the product will cost, nor what it will cover.  Money quote:

“It still sounds like some sort of blackmail,” said Dan Seneres, 42, a freelance graphic artist from Oakland. “I don’t know what this ‘affordable’ health care will be.”

As background to this problem, USA Today reports that health costs continue to beat inflation two-to-one, and Merrill Goozner at the Huffington Post dissects the new numbers. Here’s one reason why: The Arizona Daily Star reports that drugs bought through the private insurers in the Medicare Part D program costs 58% more than drugs through the single-payer program at the Veteran’s Affairs.

The New York Sun suggests that universal health care will be a key issue in the 2008 Presidential race.

In the states, a Texas physician, who is also President of Physicians for a National Health Program, makes a compelling case for single-payer health care in a Houston Chronicle editorial, arguing that eliminating private insurance would save us $ 350 billion in care dollars.  A Washington state physician makes a strong case for single-payer in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a Rocky Mountain editorialist makes a Western case here.

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