Posted on May 27, 2008

Howard Dean on single payer


10 Questions for Howard Dean

May 22, 2008

Question: As a former physician, what are your thoughts on the Democratic candidates’ health-care plans vs. a single-payer system?

Howard Dean: I think while someday we may end up with a single-payer system, it’s clear that we’re not going to do it all at once, so I think both candidates’ health-care plans are a big step forward. Certainly compared to Senator [John] McCain, who represents a big step backward.,9171,1808614,00.html


By Don McCanne, MD

Let’s assume that in 2009 we will have a Democratic president, a solid Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and sixty filibuster-proof Democrats in the Senate. We also know that, amongst Democrats, there is tremendous support for the single payer model of health care reform. That’s all we need to enact a single payer national health program. Right?

Sorry. The Democrats are already assuming that they will be in control, and the message from them is very clear. “Although single payer may be the best way to finance health care, we can never get there in one step,” is the gospel (small g) as recited by the majority of veteran Democratic legislators (with the notable exception of John Conyers and the supporters of HR 676). The majority of Democrats believe that it would be impossible to skip the next step of first using our existing programs to expand coverage to (almost) everyone.

The consensus is that, above all, we must protect the vested interests if we are to achieve this next “big step forward.” “Vested interests” is not code language; it is the private insurance industry (and to some extent, the pharmaceutical firms, which will not be discussed here).

In health care financing, the private insurers are not the solution to our problem; the private insurers are the problem. (I would apologize to President Reagan, except in his version he got it wrong.)

Those who missed yesterday’s Quote of the Day (Memorial Day) should check it out. It discussed John Geyman’s new blog and his new book on why the private insurance industry is on a death march, and why we shouldn’t resuscitate it. The “big step forward” of the Democrats will only prolong and expand the suffering and financial hardship of our fellow Americans.

We must understand the fundamental issues if we are to avoid the big misstep forward into the health care chasm. We must leap over the chasm for a safe landing on the solid foundation of a single payer national health program.

Yesterday’s Quote of the Day from John Geyman:

Click on the following link for information about John Geyman’s book on why the health insurance industry is (and should be) dying. You can pre-order it now to receive a copy as soon as it is printed, thereby qualifying you as an authority in the national dialogue on reform.