Robert Reich on Health Care
Former Secretary of Labor; Democratic Challenger MA Governor
The problem isn't ObamaCare per se. It lies in the structure of private markets for health insurance--which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. ObamaCare is just making this structural problem more obvious. We end up with the most bizarre health-insurance system imaginable: One ever better designed to avoid sick people.
[We can postpone the problem with policy] band aids. Or else a government-run single payer system--we're going to have to choose eventually.
It will become apparent that the 2010 reform cannot adequately contain soaring health care costs. The main reason for the soaring costs and poor results is the way our system is organized. We are the only advanced nation whose citizens largely depend on private, for-profit insurers. The result is complicated, expensive, and inequitable.
"We won't get a public option, or anything close to it, unless people who feel strongly about it make a racket," Reich said. "1. Be very loud & very vocal: Write, phone, & e-mail. 2: Get others to do the same. 3: Get voters and make a hell of a fuss. 4: March on Washington."
Democrats also shy away from any mention of universal health care because they still believe that Hillary’s ill-fated plan of 1994 was responsible for the Republican takeover of Congress later the same year. Their memories need jogging. Hillary Care sank of its own complex weight--which also made it a perfect foil for right-wing demagoguery. But it didn’t go down without a fight, and not without substantial public support at the start. In 1993, a majority of Americans listed “universal health care” as the most important unmet public need and their highest priority for government action. What better time to revive the idea of universal health care than now, since the federal budget is flush and working families need it more than ever?
A: The President proposed a minimum wage increase in 1992 during the campaign, and then when health care reform was on the table, when there was a possibility that employers would be providing health care for all employees, we felt that we didn’t want to add an additional few pennies to payrolls. But the minute health care was no longer viable - and that very ambitious health care plan, as you recall, did not get enacted -- we went back and proposed, in January of 1995, an increase in the minimum wage, and we’ve been fighting for that for the last year and three quarters. Hopefully, we will get it because Americans at the bottom, twelve million of them, deserve at least a livable wage.
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