Health reform plan a good compromise

Published 8:54 am Friday, July 24, 2009

Congress is considering Obama’s health care reform plan that would offer a public option for health insurance. It is a compromise between different sides of the debate. The current employment-based system, barring any changes to control costs, is poised to collapse when a significant number of employers can no longer afford to offer it. At that point the government would probably have to step in with a single payer system. This would essentially be Medicare for all, which is probably the best choice for the most people, but it would look frighteningly expensive, sort of like the huge taxpayer bailout of failed banks last fall except bigger.

Congress should in any case expand Medicare to include children, who are the poorest segment of our population. (Seniors used to be, but thanks to Social Security and Medicare this is no longer the case). No politician in their right mind would try to end Medicare for seniors, and the same would be true for children if it were extended to them.

Someday we may emulate other industrialized nations and provide Medicare for everybody after all. Yes, it has a high tax price tag, but northern European governments are better at controlling health care costs than our market-based system is, and they have the same or better health outcomes. It’s a no-brainer if we can get past the notion that all tax increases are irresponsible and wasteful.

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Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Albert Lea