According to the beloved Dr. Bill Frist, it’s absolutely impossible to achieve universal coverage in the US (NYT link):
bq(quote).. The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, said on Friday that “it is impossible” to have all Americans covered by health insurance, but he predicted that Congress would take incremental steps to expand coverage this year.
Dr. Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said his state was “going bankrupt” as a result of trying to achieve universal insurance coverage.
“It is impossible to get everybody covered,” Dr. Frist said at a meeting with journalists. “It’s impossible to get to 100 percent.”
p. Now now, Dr. Frist. Every other democratic, industrialized country has some sort of national health care or national health insurance. They pay a lot less than we do, and have better outcomes. And everyone’s covered. And we seriously can’t achieve it? You’ve got to be kidding.
A great rebuttal from the AMS A health policy listserv from Jeff Huo:
bq(quote).. It seems pretty obvious to me that in a country where employers spent about 200 billion dollars on health care, and Americans spent about as much on soda, wine, and beer, that the money is probably available somewhere, somehow, to close the necessary monetary gap. If you really wanted to.
We built a nuclear bomb from nothing in less than five years; we sent men to the moon in less than ten; it seems hard to believe that we couldn’t find some way, with enough cleverness, to achieve near universal-access to at least basic health care. The only guaranteed defeats are the fights you surrender.
When we say there is no room in the budget for Universal Health Care what we’re *really* saying is that we don’t want to make Universal Health Care a priority sufficiently high to fit it into the budget. And if that’s what you believe, then you’re welcome to. But to say that there isn’t, if one thinks hard enough, some way to *make* it happen is not, I think, being honest. There always is if one is willing to try hard and think hard enough –if you’re willing to begin from that first principle, that the vast majority of Americans deserve access to basic health care, and build the rest around it.
We could go over the rest of the constant themes here — universal health care does not necessarily equal single payer and so on. We could point out examples, like Maryland’s Health Care for All plan, of detailed attempts to generate a nuts-and-bolts gritty detailed plan to attempt to achieve near Universal Health Care. But the point is, eventually, we’re right back to where we were a little earlier –you either believe that Universal Health Care is a goal that is to be tried for, or you don’t. If you do, then it is up to us to find a way to make it happen, and to argue the merits of various plans to get there, and the tradeoffs of one plan vs. another plan. If you don’t, you’ll always be able to find a reason, an excuse. You lose every fight you give up.
Bluntly once again, one either looks for solutions or one looks for excuses. If you try hard enough, most times you’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for.
p. What does it say about our political leadership when the Senate majority leader says flat-out that health care for all is 100% impossible? How’s that for compassionate conservatism?