By Ben Cohen
As Matt Taibbi pointed out in his latest post, Tom Daschle is about the last person on earth capable of making serious reforms to America's broken health care system. Daschle wrote an article on the Huffington Post outlining his basic philosophy on health care reform, and after reading it, I'm convinced Obama is not at all serious about providing quality health care to every American.
Daschle essentially wants Federal oversight of insurance companies, ensuring profit is privatized, and the basics of the system remain unchanged. He writes:
The time is now for us to take this challenge head-on. What we need is a change in approach. In my book,
I have proposed a Federal Health Board that would be a foundation from
which we could address all three problems. In many ways, the Federal
Health Board would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board for the
banking industry. Just as the Federal Reserve ensures certain
standards, transparency and performance for our banking industry, the
Fed Health would ensure harmonization across public programs of
health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency. Ultimately, the Fed
Health would offer a public framework within which a private
health-care system could operate more effectively and efficiently.
A Physician left an interesting comment on the post:
Senator, as a physician, I applaud your attempts to think
outside the box, but increased regulation of the insurance industry is
only a band-aid. As long as it is possible to profit by collecting
premiums and then denying care, no amount of regulation will long
succeed at doing more than slowing the degradation of the system.
Your example of the Federal Reserve is a perfect analogy, and clearly
explains why this idea won't work. For all of its awesome power to
manipulate the economy, it couldn't (or wouldn't) do a darn thing to
stop the stop the subprime mortgage crisis, and is trying to bail out
the banks while doing nothing to help individual homeowners.
If there were a federal body like the one you propose, and it acted like the Fed, then we would expect to see it:
1) stand by and do nothing while predatory lenders (oops, I mean
insurance companies) peddle no-win insurance coverage to sick people,
with every intention of collecting premiums and no intention of paying
2) work desperately to save insurance companies (but not patients) when the health care system is in crisis
3) pontificate that individual homeowners (oops, patients) are to blame
for picking the wrong insurance plan as they go into bankruptcy from
the medical costs that the insurance companies refuse to pay.
I'm inclined to take the doctor's side on this, as they have to deal with the enormous bureaucracy the insurance companies create, and are in contact with the people they can't treat because of it. If this is 'Change You Can Believe in', then George Bush is a Democrat.
We'll follow up on Daschle, as this is an issue too important to let slide.