Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Call to Action Health Care Reform 2009

Another mostly misguided proposal for reforming our health care system has surfaced this month. It, “Call to Action Health Care Reform 2009,” comes from Montana Democrat Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. See it at http://finance.senate.gov/healthreform2009/finalwhitepaper.pdf

Eighty-seven pages long, the Call to Action plan claims to be a “comprehensive but not exhaustive exploration of every health care issue that can or should be considered.” The document does present intelligent discussion of the many problems with our health care system and offers workable solutions to some of them, but the claim that it explores every health care issue that can and should be considered is totally false.

In fact, the one most important issue of all is totally ignored, the proper role of the for-profit private insurance industry in administering health care expenditures. By contrast, H.R. 676, a bill in the House sponsored by Representative John Conyers and 90 other congressmen, emphasizes the problems created by the private insurance industry and rightly seeks to get that industry out of the health care financing business altogether. That needs to be done because the private health insurance industry is merely a funds-sucking tapeworm in the gut of the American health care financing system, one that funnels off a huge portion of the funds that should be used to pay for health care.

Rather than to address this serious problem, Senator Baucas’s proposal calls for more investment in for-profit private health insurance. He wants to require that everyone be forced to buy health insurance, and that taxpayers subsidize the industry by supplementing the funds it receives from those who cannot afford to pay its high premiums. Senator Baucus is being disingenuous in ignoring the real problem here, but at least he is honest enough to admit that his plan will increase rather than decrease the cost of health care in the United States. That, we do not need.

(The text of H.R. 676 is at www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.676:)

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