Health care reform needs options

Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009

It seems that negotiations for national health care reform are resulting in the elimination of options favored by many in the general public, instead being replaced by plans supported by the health care industry.

As Bob Herbert commented in his Aug. 17 column in the New York Times, "It's never a contest when the interests of big business are pitted against the public interest. So if we manage to get health care 'reform' this time around it will be the kind of reform that benefits the very people who have given us a failed system, and thus made reform so necessary."

The single payer option never made it to the table, even though it provides more coverage at less cost (www.pnhp.org/singlepayerresources).

Then the proposal for government-negotiated drug costs to bring them in line with what they are in Canada and other western industrialized nations, was dropped. Again quoting Herbert's column, a "couple of months ago the Obama administration made a secret and extremely troubling deal with the drug industry's lobbying arm, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America." In exchange for a promise of savings of $8 billion over a 10-year period, the government would forgo using its enormous purchasing power to negotiate drug prices with an industry whose annual profits are $300 billion.

Now we are being told that the only remaining reform option that can exert meaningful control on health care costs - the government plan option - is being dropped. As Herbert stated, "... Giving consumers the choice of an efficient, nonprofit, government-run insurance plan would have moved us toward real cost control..." Even though opponents of a government run plan claim otherwise, the current government operated Medicare plan operates at 3 percent of the administrative cost, while the for-profit insurance plans operate at 20 percent.

If you support the government plan option, please contact your senators, representative and President Obama to let them know. For further information on this issue, visit www.factcheck.org and Russfeingold.org, in addition to the cite referenced above.

DeeAnn Grummett

Juneau



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