Friday, October 10, 2008

Pundits on Health Care

Right now, the crash of the financial markets is taking center stage, but the nation’s health care problems are still the subject of various press pundits’ commentaries. In the October 13, 2008 issue of NEWSWEEK, one of better known commentators, Jane Bryant Quinn, discusses John McCain’s health plan, and alludes to Barack Obama’s. These, of course, are not health care plans as such, but rather are health insurance plans, a fact that the pundits like her seem to be ignoring, or would rather not talk about. It is an easy way out, and a poor substitute for taking on the health care problem directly and discussing solutions.

Quinn notes that the McCain and Obama health insurance plans over the next decade are likely to cost the taxpayers an additional $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively. She clearly favors Obama’s plan over McCain’s, but she seems to be trapped in the philosophical box that does not allow thinking or discussion about anything but health insurance per se. She is not a dumb person, and I don’t understand why she doesn’t go outside the box and state what she surely knows is the way to reduce health care costs rather than increase them. Maybe her editors would not let her do that. If they would allow it, Quinn could have gone on to say that both the McCain and Obama plans were off the mark, and that the establishment of a single-payer health care system in this country has the only potential to reduce health care costs—not just a little bit, a lot. Instead of spending 16 percent of our gross national product on health care, we could be spending only 10 percent, while giving all Americans health care just as good as the citizens of all other modern countries get from their much cheaper and more effective universal health care systems.

Yes, Quinn and some of her fellow pundits could serve us better by talking more about health care, and less about health insurance. But at least in her column she does say that McCain’s belief in the magic of the marketplace is misplaced. She says, “Friends, there’s zero evidence that that works.”

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