Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cautionary Tales

I’ve been known to characterize single payer (national health insurance) as an arrangement for freezing the existing health care system in place and then slowly starving it to death.

The freezing part was illustrated by President Obama during his recent press conference when he assured those who were satisfied with their current health insurance plans and physicians that they could keep what they have and need not be affected by his proposal for a government-run plan. What he was saying, in effect, was that you could keep your doctor, however incompetent or wasteful he/she might be, and your health insurance would have to pay him/her.

The starving part was shown in the June 24 issue of The Boston Globe, which headlined the decision of the Massachusetts legislature to cut some $115 million from the budget of the celebrated Massachusetts health reform plan as a budget balancing measure. Further back in the same issue, State Treasurer Cahill, who has expressed an interest in running for governor, was quoted as referring to the Massachusetts health plan as “a luxury taxpayers can no longer afford.”

These ought to be taken as cautionary tales by advocates of single payer.

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