Candidates’ Health Plans?

Maybe I am getting too far along in age to catch subtleties that I may be missing, but as I watch the reports on the 3 presidential candidates’ health plans it looks to me that intelligent commentators in the press as well as the sound bite media are missing the intent of the plans, their weak points, and the nonsense sometimes entailed therein.

As background here I was saddened by the Harry Truman defeat in his efforts to introduce universal health coverage here back when. The enemy was the A.M.A. which at that time held only greedy members determined to maintain the high incomes of doctors. I was told that by Dave Rogers, one of our leading medical figures in his day — dean of two medical schools as a very young man, head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and finally University Professor at Cornell Medical.

We missed a vital opportunity then as I saw as a teen exchange student to a British school and a later year at Oxford which exposed me to universal medical care independent of capacity to pay. Vividly I saw the contrast between the medical situations of kids in the East End of London (the poorest section) versus the lack of care for a comparable group of kids in Harlem some years later.

So what are the candidates offering? Both of the Dems are working towards universal medical coverage with different pragmatic strategies. Hillary wants to impose obligatory health insurance on all. Obama wants to follow the past route by including another group in need — children — to those now covered — the poor (Medicaid) and retired (Medicare).
One cannot tell in advance which is the best strategy to the common end. There will be massive resistance to whatever by powerful vested interests — profit and non profit health insurance bureaucracies and those opposed to mandatory health insurance generally. We will have one hell of a job to do in correcting our horrendously flawed system which costs twice our nearest competitor’s and delivers far less. Folks are making out big with what we have and they won’t give up easily. Even caring doctors may worry about the decline in their incomes, if we move to universal medical care.

McCain’s medical offerings seem to have been provided by a speech write — another attempt to privatize along the lines of Bush’s effort to sabotage Social Security. I gather that even his figures do not hold up. A $5000.00 tax credit gets reduced to $2000.00 when taxes are taken out and that amount covers a pittance of the roughly $12,000 a year now is the cost of private insurance. McCain more and more looks to be out of touch with reality in area after area. Maybe being married to a hundred million plus dollars distorts one’s views on things like taxes and basic services to the rest of us?

Hopefully we will elect enough Democrats — at least 60 Senators — so that we can make some major reforms in medical care in America. There are still those at work trying to kill us off prematurely, e.g. the cut out of coverage for very expensive life saving medicines tossed out this month to desperately sick people who need them.

What we have seeing in Republican medical insurance manipulations since Truman is a war on any of us who become ill and need medical care. And that is all of us at some point along the line — I can vouch for this from my own experience as a retiree.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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