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Health Care: It's time to rock

Seattle Post-IntelligencerEditorial Board
August 26, 2008

Truth be told, we already have a government-funded health care system; we just pretend we don't. There's this supposed mix of private and public insurance, but the fact is the U.S. government (you know, we, the taxpayers) spend nearly a quarter more for government health care programs than say, Canada (a country that is supposed to have government-controlled health care). And what do we get for our extravagant spending? A total mess.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the number of people lacking health insurance dropped by more than 1 million in 2007 to nearly 46 million people.

This is a headline that looks great until you see that what's declining is private insurance coverage and what's increasing is the number of people eligible for government programs such as Medicaid.

It's time to organize government health care into a single-payer system, one that covers all Americans. It's the most cost-effective route forward. Last year's health expenditures topped $2.3 trillion -- or $7,600 per person -- and those figures continue to grow faster than inflation.

Not only that, but U.S. industry is less competitive in a global economy when companies from other countries spend zero on employee health care.

David Himmelstein, a professor of medicine at Harvard University and a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, said it's time for politicians to be bold and "rock the private insurance boat."

Rock away. Any chance delegates in Denver and St. Paul are ready?