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Monday, May 11, 2009


Socialism, not single-payer

Single-payer health care would be a vast improvement over the system we have now in the United States. But as I've written before (e.g., here, here, and here), what we really need is socialism, not single-payer health care. Today's news, that the "health industry" (the term itself is grating, isn't it?) has "promised" (can we get that in writing, please?) to "save" $2 trillion (trillion with a "T") dollars in the next decade (not as much as it sounds, of course, that's only $200 billion/year) in health care "costs." They propose to do this by using "new efficiencies," whatever that means. I'll put my money on one of two things - cutting salaries of workers, or cutting actual care (e.g., kicking people out of hospitals faster). Cutting profits? Don't count on that.

The idea that health - all aspects of health, including not just doctors but drug development and production, building and operating medical schools and hospitals, developing and producing machines like MRI, etc. - should be an area subject to profit, is not just objectionable, but irrational. If the threat of even modest changes in the nation's health care system could force the "industry" to lower its blackmail costs by $2 trillion (or, at least, promise to do so), what does that say about the real savings that could be achieved if the entire system were put under public, democratic control, with the goal of producing health instead of profit? I'm guessing the saving would be at least ten times that amount, if not indeed far more.

Repeating something I've written before: Few outside of the extreme right-wing would question the centrality of public education; why do even liberals like Obama resist so strongly the necessary centrality of public health care?

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