Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dr. Howard Dean's Prescription for Health Care Reform

News of Dr. Howard Dean's book tour in the Washington Post. He's proposing his own solution to the health-care mess:
Dean did take a few shots at the Obama administration's handling of the current debate. "I think that there's a very mixed message coming out of the administration," he said. "What I'm selling is something that's really clear."

What Dean is selling is his latest book, or at least the proposal outlined in it. "Not to shill for my own book, but if you have $12.99 or whatever it is to spare, 'Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform' actually explains all this in plain English in about 130 pages, and you can get through it in a good afternoon," he told the Poland Spring crowd.
Why the former Vermont governor, DNC chair and practicing physician wasn't named HHS Secretary by President Obama, I'll never figure out. In any case, here's his prescription:
Much has been made of the 48 million Americans who don’t have health insurance. Their stories are heart-rending, and it’s a scandal that in the wealthiest nation on earth, we do not cover everybody. No other industrial democracy in the world puts up with this embarrassment. But the debate on healthcare reform—which is coming to a peak once again—should also focus on the fact that many Americans who do have health insurance don’t find out that it doesn’t adequately cover them until them until it is too late.

What’s the real issue?

The real issue in the debate over healthcare reform is not whether we should have “socialized medicine” or not. It’s whether we should continue with an extraordinarily inefficient system that today features a private insurance industry that takes large amounts of money out of the healthcare system for shareholders, administrators, and executives, while denying people the basic coverage they have paid for.

How to frame the debate.

The debate about healthcare reform is not a debate about how much a role the government should play. Instead, the debate should focus on this simple question: Should we give Americans under 65 the same choice we give Americans over 65? Should we give all Americans a choice of opting out of the private health insurance system and benefiting from a public health insurance plan? Americans ought to be able to decide for themselves.

What Americans Should Demand of Real Healthcare Reform.

Choice: Everyone should be able to choose between a public health insurance option—like Medicare— or a private health insurance option.
No forced moves: If you like the health insurance coverage you have, you should be able to keep it.
Coverage options for small business: Very small businesses should have the option of handing over health insurance coverage for their employees to a public or private plan subsidized by the government.
Everybody in, nobody out: Public and private health insurance plans should turn no one away based on illness, pre-existing conditions, or other criteria.
Similar premiums for everyone: Despite age or illness, all Americans should be able to opt into a public or private healthcare without wide discrepancies in cost based on age or previous illness.
More options, not less: Healthcare reform should expand Americans’ healthcare choices, not reduce them.
Financial protection: A public health insurance option is more affordable because it’s more efficient. This protects families’ financial health.
Fewer of your healthcare dollars spent on overhead: A public health insurance option is much cheaper to operate and will help reduce non-health-related overhead costs.
Universality: Everyone other than those already covered by Medicare or Medicaid should have the option to join a public plan.
Portability: A public health insurance plan should cover you no matter how many times you move, no matter who you work for, and no matter where you live.
More at and in this YouTube clip (sure wish they didn't have that distracting flag in the background, though...):