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That was at least how I reacted in reading that leaders of the health care industry are offering $2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years — at the rate of 1.5 percentage points per year — to help pay for a medical insurance program covering all Americans.
 
Hmm, I wondered.

What motivated them to make such an offer? Was it an altruistic gesture on their part, or an effort to avoid creation of a government health plan that would limit their future profitability?
           
The answer is, I believe, that they realized they'd better quickly put something on the table before public opinion turns against them — even more than it already has.

One thing for sure is that the debate in Congress over the best way to overhaul the nation's health care system will be a battle royal, and make the debates over credit card reform and offshore tax havens look like minor skirmishes. It will be no holds barred and with lobbyists for the health industry encamped in the halls of Congress.
 
Among all industrial nations, the United States stands alone in not having some sort of single-payer universal health care system, funded by public financing and which guarantees that everyone, without exception, will receive all medically necessary care with no co-pays or deductibles.

Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-chair of the Maryland chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, talked about it in a recent op-ed article in The Baltimore Sun.

He said that when she asked the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), “Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer health plan to have a seat at the table during the 'public roundtable discussion' on health care reform?” — the only response was, according to her, a directive from the chairman to the police to remove her from the room (where she was then arrested).

If that's an accurate account of what transpired, then all I can say is, that's a heck of a way to treat a person asking a simple question ... let alone a physician.
 
Now it's one thing for him to ride hell-for-leather on his horse in Montana, but it's another thing to ride roughshod over someone speaking out on behalf of most physicians and nurses, as well for the majority of Americans.

Fired-up as she may have been in writing that op-ed piece, I find myself agreeing with her statement that "health care, with a single-payer system must become the civil rights movement of our time."

But getting those members of Congress who oppose a government run health care system to do a turnabout may prove to be as difficult as an elephant trying to pick up a pea.
 
Their reluctance to do so is understandable, considering that for many of them, their campaign coffers would not be as full without contributions from the health industry.

That's particularly true for the members of the Senate Finance Committee who, as Dr. Flowers indicated in her article, received $13 million from it in the 2008 election cycle alone.

But the biggest question I have, is where's President Barack Obama’s plan for reforming the health care system?
 
Let's hope that it doesn't take too long for it to ooze or trickle through the percolator and that what it produces has a pleasant, not a rancid taste.

Quote of the week: "An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."
— Simon Cameron


David Grand writes from Westminster. Visit him at www.davidgrand.com or e-mail him at dgrand31@aol.com


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