Nader Promotes Single-Payer Health Care Plan

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Presidential candidate Ralph Nader (I) on Thursday criticized the U.S.'s two-party political system, which he says has been beholden to corporate interests that are preventing residents from accessing health care through a universal health care system, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Nader, who is on the ballot in about 20 states, "heaped criticism on the health care industry," citing an Institute of Medicine study that found that 18,000 U.S. residents die annually because they are uninsured. Nader said, "Once we have a low expectation of the political system and what it should deliver, (the corporation's) work is done" (Gehrke, Salt Lake Tribune, 8/1).

Nader on Wednesday posted an online video highlighting his proposal for a single-payer, Canadian-style health care system. In the video, Nader calls the plans by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) "pay or die" plans because they would continue the current commercially based system (Rhee, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 7/30).

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Editorial, Opinion Piece

Two newspapers recently published an editorial and an opinion piece about health care issues in the presidential election. Summaries appear below.

* Providence Journal: Obama's health care proposal -- which he says could save $200 billion annually in health care spending and reduce costs by $2,500 per family -- is "complicated" and would "[p]robably not" reach its goals, according to a Journal editorial. According to the editorial, Obama's plan relies on $81 billion in savings by improving disease prevention programs and chronic disease management. However, the editorial states that prevention programs "don't save money in the long run" because "people with poor health habits die younger and so spend less time on Medicare." Obama's plan states that another $77 billion would be saved by instituting a nationwide electronic health record system, but the Congressional Budget Office disputes that figure, saying it is too large. In addition, Obama's proposal would institute a new government-run plan to compete with private insurers that would require insurers to offer certain levels of benefits and, according to the campaign's Web site, "charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend on health status." The proposal estimates that such a plan would reduce administrative costs by $46 billion. The editorial states, "we wonder how eager private insurers would be to sign up sick people at fixed premiums -- especially since the Obama plan lacks a mandate requiring everyone obtain coverage." The editorial asks, "If one truly wants to lower administrative costs, why not expand Medicare to all?" The editorial recommends that a "simple government-run plan that provides the basics and lets people buy private coverage for the extras" would halt the "illogical and grossly unfair tradition of employer-based coverage and brin[g] healthy people into the risk pool" (Providence Journal, 7/31).

* Froma Harrop, Tallahassee Democrat: "The only candidate on a major-party presidential ticket to have proposed and implemented a universal plan could well be a Republican": former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is "now high on the list of John McCain's possible running mates," syndicated columnist Harrop writes in a Democrat opinion piece. While McCain's health care plan "merely tinkers around an expensive, inefficient wreck ... [l]etting Romney take over this issue could appeal to moderates who regard Republicans as the guardians of a crazy status quo," Harrop writes. Although there have been "glitches" in the Massachusetts health insurance law, which Romney helped launch, the number of uninsured residents has declined, their out-of-pocket costs have been reduced and their benefits have improved, according to Harrop. She continues, "The right wing has been beating up Romney over the reforms, which he designed in cooperation with a Democratic legislature," in part because the "achievement threatens the conservative myth that government can't organize a health care system that the public will like." However, "Romney emphasizes his plan's reliance on private insurers," Harrop notes. She concludes, "As a vice-presidential candidate, Romney could help deliver Michigan to McCain, but even better, he could help deliver a national health care policy," adding, "McCain needs that just as much" (Harrop, Tallahassee Democrat, 8/1).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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