The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Issue of the Day: Health Care Reform

Health Care is bound to come up as an issue Wednesday and Kerry didn't seem nearly prepared enough on Friday. Democrats have to nip in the bud this Republican idea that our health care crisis is the result of malpractice claims and trial lawyers. I liked what Edwards said in his debate.

"[This] issue...really doesn't have a great deal to do with...[the national crisis in health care] in this country, which I think is a very serious issue.

"...the...problems with malpractice premiums [are] very real. What doctors talk about is very serious....they're getting squeezed from both sides....They have trouble getting reimbursed, first of all, for the care that they provide...,from [both] the government or from health-care companies. And, on the flip side, their malpractice costs are going up. [In some of our rural areas, access to care is a critical issue and malpractice insurance plays some part in that.]

"That's very real, which is why we have proposed a plan to keep cases out of the system that don't belong there."

{I think he should then add the following}

"Try to visual what we as a nation spend on health care by thinking of the total amount as represented by the length of my arm. All $1.5 trillion of it from my shoulder to my finger tips. George Bush's health care proposal, even if it passes and works - which is a big assumption - would only affect an amount equivalent to the top knuckle of my finger. And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would reduce health spending by less than one half of one percent. That's about equivalent to cutting my finger nail and saying you shortened my arm. All in all, George Bush's health care proposals amount to little more than a manicure. Which is about right for this administration. My proposal could save the American family $1,000 a year. That's about a quarter of the length of my arm. My proposal promises American families real savings. It promises to cut the waste in our health care system. It will free up businesses to focus on what they do best and give them assistance in providing health care for their employees so they can worry about expanding their business rather than trying to give their workers basic health coverage. George Bush is offering a makeover. I am offering a real solution for real problems."

What I like about this response is its visual (if hokey) and concrete. And it addresses what most people care about - which is cost and their own coverage. I am sorry but most American's just don't care about the crisis of the uninsured. Want to sound like a liberal - talk about that issue. Instead, we need to talk about health care as it is experienced by most families - rising premiums, an ever narrowing scope of coverage, headaches with the insurance bureaucracy, uncertainty about the future. This takes an issue and makes it real for people. It's not a slogan but a policy with a response to a real problem put in terms people can understand. This is something that Kerry really needs to do - get more specific. Stop using slogans and show that he has a plan to make things better from day 1.