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No Prayer for Single-Payer?

Our Readers Who Comment are engaged in an unusually on-point discussion about the status of health care reform this morning and they're not happy about what they're seeing from Washington.

As Ceci Connolly and Michael D. Shear wrote, the Obama administration is "confronting deep dissension on several fronts within Democratic ranks and possible defections among key constituencies" in its efforts to construct health care legislation.

A large of number of comments support the "single-payer" solution, which somehow seems to work in other developed nations and produce lower costs, universal coverage and quality care. The administration, doubtless believing that such a solution is politically impossible in the United States, is trying to cut deals with important players like insurance and pharmaceutical companies and hospital associations.

But the comments today -- which certainly are not a scientific poll -- suggest Americans are tired of congressional-administration games; that many want a reform bill and a significant number want a single-payer plan. Similar views are expressed in an extraordinarily long comment string after Michael Gerson's column, although he certainly has his supporters. His column concludes by saying that since the economy is not improving, Obama should tell the country, "ambitious health reform must wait."

I am summarizing comments only from the Connolly-Shear article.

We'll start with seattle_wa, who said, "While Obama is giving away the store to the special interests in the Medical-Insurance-Pharmaceutical-industrial complex, the republicans are digging in their heels and rehearsing their Harry-and-Louise TV ads. In other words, business as usual in Washington. I guess we know how much the people and their votes REALLY count."

BlueTwo1 wrote, "When it comes down to a debate between my mother's health insurance company and her treatment for breast cancer, I know which side I'm on. Congress, on the other hand, doesn't know my mother, but they do play golf with insurance company CEOs..."

The story quoted White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as saying that "All the constituencies that have been the most vocal critics of any form of health reform in the past are now invested in its success."

This caused kevin1231 to write, "I find this sickening as it implies that the administration and the U.S. congress are powerless against the industry lobby. It is symptomatic of utter corruptions of our governmental institutions... Any reform that pleases everyone is not a reform at all."

khyber900 said, "This article doesn't accurately capture the state of the debate on health care. What has happened in the last few weeks is that progressive Democrats and the Democratic base have asserted themselves, and as a result, meaningful health care reform has moved a step or two closer. The big issue, which was not highlighted, is public option. Progressive Democrats have demanded it, and the White House and more conservative Democrats have begun to acquiesce..."

Frigistan wrote, "Just drop it then. I'm sick of the special interests having so much influence. Let's just call it the United Corp of America and consider all people who live here indentured corporate servants and only let those that serve on corporate boards vote."

Desertstraw said, "I am a member of the AARP but AARP does not speak for me... Moreover, as one who voted for Obama, I am fed up with these negotiations with all the special without reference to us. I want a single payer system. I am opposed to the various versions of the bills that Democrats have proposed."

FactChecker1 wrote, "That's right guys...think about all the constituencies except the one that should matter the most: the American public. We're sick and tired of you dolts in Washington not being able to come up with a workable solution. If one more year goes by with no meaningful plan you can guarantee there will be hell to pay in 2010."

To which mike85 added, "The problem with the Democrat's Obama-care is that it isn't about helping people. It is all about political payback in the name of health-care reform. As proposed, Obama-care with be a multi-trillion dollar boondoggle that will take care of Obama's major contributors: General Electric Corp. and the Service Employees International Union, and no one else..."

rcvinson64 wrote, "Let's just wait for the system to collapse? Old people never want change. They're afraid that no one will give them an organ transplant, hip replacement or expensive chemotherapy at 85. They have nothing better to do than drain or system and vote. No wonder we can't ever fix anything in this country."

ancient_mariner, perhaps an old person, said, "Only one reform makes sense: a national, single-payer system that cuts the insurance companies out of the picture completely. Then maybe our health care dollars can go to health care instead of corporate profits."

atxord wrote, "Special interest groups have payed big money with fancy "on message" TV ads to distract lawmakers and demand their seat at the table. And now health care reform is suddenly falling apart? What a shocker. Who could have predicted these same groups would now fiercely defend their tiny (but extremely profitable) slice of the current $2.5 trillion health care pie at the expense of everyday Americans. I'll tell you who predicted this...everyday Americans."

VirginiaIndependent asked, "Can we please have more details about what exactly this administration's Health Care Payment Reform Plan will consist of? Obama has been president for almost half a year, and there is still no clear vision, much less the sort of detail that citizens need to evaluate the proposed change."

mike85 replied, "You've hit the nail on the head. There are no details, because other than the name THERE IS NO PLAN... Obama promised health-care reform so he is trying to deliver, but he is leaving it up to Nancy Pelosi and company to come up with a plan, and that plan changes as the wind blows..."

paphorter wrote, "I'm pretty sure I heard the new HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebillus? [Sebelius] say at a hearing... that we are now spending 18% of our GDP on healthcare. For that, we are providng access to healthcare for some 80% of our people, with another 20% of those getting very poor coverage. Around this Earth, most countries are spending an average of 10% GDP and providing access to healthcare for everyone...Single Payer---NOW!"

HuckFinn said, "The only "reform" I have read about that is worth a damn is the public option. We have the cart before the horse. Simply achieving universal coverage by demanding that everyone buy insurance from the existing corrupt system just entrenches and expands the problems..."

ohioan cautioned that "Obama's stimulus package isn't working like he claimed it would --- so why would we believe anything he says about healthcare? He and his administration are not paying attention to details, or the numbers, all they care about is pushing their agenda, whether it works or not."

dsrobins wrote, "A bit of a delay in passing the health care reform legislation is no problem. Not passing the legislation, however, will destroy the Democratic party. We need to remember that the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies have huge numbers of senators and representatives already firmly in their pockets... Now is the time for all of us to write to our congressmen and senators.. no matter how much we dislike them... and tell them we want real reform legislation..."

We'll close with these two viewpoints:

hz9604 said, "Universal health care is dead. Face it. Americans are the most generous in the world when it comes time to help (Katrina, tsunami, etc.) but Americans expect people to work for what they get-- including health care. Socialized anything goes against the grain of most Americans. That's why what other countries do is not a justification for America doing it."

And cpwash wrote, "Hello! We want Universal Single Payer Health! Period. We are sick of paying an extra 30% for some insurance company rationing our health care for profit."

All comments on this article are here.
7/9/2009 5:48:42 AM

By Doug Feaver  |  July 9, 2009; 6:32 AM ET
 | Tags: Health Care Reform, Obama, Single-Payer  
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