Ten Questions on Health Care to Ask at a Town Meeting

This from a buzzflash.com guest blog by Dave Lindorff, based on an idea from one of his readers. Should you go to one of the town hall meetings on health care reform, here are 10 good questions to ask. The questions about Medicare, which I’ve highlighted in boldface, are especially good ones for older people to ask. This is especially important because the media seems to be full of tales of loony geezers claiming the government is going to mess up their Medicare–if it doesn’t euthanize them first.

1. If Canada’s single-payer system is so god-awful, why have repeated Conservative governments at the provincial and national level in Canada never touched it? Canada is a democracy. If Canadians don’t like their health care system, why haven’t they gotten rid of it in 35 years? Since the system there is run by the separate provinces, many of which are very politically conservative, why has not one province ever tried to get rid of single-payer?
2. Why is rationing by income, as we do it here, better than rationing by need, as they do it in Canada?
3. Wouldn’t single-payer mean that companies could no longer threaten working people with the loss of their health insurance? Why is this a bad idea?
4. The bigger the insurance pool, the better. So doesn’t having a national pool, as with single-payer, make the most sense?
5. Why should we be allowing politicians who are taking money from the medical industry to write the new health care legislation?
6. How can the Congress be developing a health system reform scheme and not even invite experts from Canada down to explain their successful system?
7. If Medicare–a single-payer system here in America–is so popular with the elderly, how come it’s no good for the rest of us?
8. Isn’t it true that Medicare currently finances the most costly patient group–the elderly and infirm–so that extending it to the rest of the population–most of whom are young and healthy–would be much cheaper, per person?
9. The AMA, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Insurance Industry all bitterly opposed Medicare in 1964-5 when it was being debated in Congress and passed into law, with the right, led by Ronald Reagan, calling it creeping socialism. It became a life-saver for the elderly and didn’t turn the US into a soviet republic. Why should we give a tinker’s damn what those same three industry groups and the Republican right think of expanding single-payer now?
10. The executives of Canadian subsidiaries of US companies all support Canada’s single-payer system, and even lobby collectively to have it expanded and better funded. Why does Congress listen to the executives of the parent companies here at home, and not invite those Canadian execs down to explain why they like single-payer?

3 responses to “Ten Questions on Health Care to Ask at a Town Meeting

  1. SOUNDS A LOT LIKE RATIONING TO ME!!!!

    This may be one reasons Seniors are alarmed by the plans for ObamaCare. Larry Summers speaks about frequency of different procedures…and no benefits in terms of the health of the population…and the right kind of cost-effectiveness. This is an actual transcript from Meet the Press.

    BBF

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30291720/page/2/

    DR. SUMMERS: The president’s laid out a number of measures on the tax side and in–and much more importantly, a number of measures that involve taking costs out of the Medicare, the Medicare budget. But the really important issue for the long run, David, is changing the way in which we deliver health care in this country. You know, there have been a whole set of studies done, they look at health care, the frequency of different procedures, whether it’s tonsillectomies or hysterectomies in different parts of the country, and what you see is that in some parts of the country procedures are done three times as frequently and there’s no benefit in terms of the health of the population. And by doing the right kind of cost-effectiveness, by making the right kinds of investments and protection, some experts that we–estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system. Now, we wouldn’t have to do anything like that, we wouldn’t have to do a third of that in order to pay for a very aggressive program of increased coverage. And so really the president and OMB director Orszag have identified a number of items that they call the game changers: prevention, cost-effectiveness, research, doing a better job on, on reimbursements. And as we put those into effect we can get this growth of health care costs under control. And it’ll be a good thing for the federal budget and, frankly, a good thing for the national economy.

  2. Great questions. A friend’s daughter lived in France for years and paid $125.00 per year for health coverage and not a cent more receiving excellent care while living there.

  3. When we returned to America from Japan after 13 years it felt like living in a third world country. We couldn’t afford insurance, even now I haven’t seen a doctor for 10 years. In Japan it costs about $20 to see a doctor.
    John

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