Health Care and the Circular Firing Squad

This health care debate is bringing out the shallowest aspects of our political culture, and that's been true across the ideological spectrum.


So, at the risk of being repetitive (I know -- that ship's already sailed), let me say again that I think all the overheated rhetoric between single-payer and public-option advocates is totally overblown.

After all, the following beliefs -- which motivate the two factions -- are both 100 percent correct:

1) Enacting a single-payer-type* system is the only approach that has the potential to dramatically reduce costs while covering everyone. It's the cleanest, most efficient model, and has been proven in country after developed country to result in better wellness outcomes at a significantly lower price tag.

Single-payer advocates are right about this. So it would be nice if those supporting a public option would acknowledge that fact, rather than accuse those who disagree of being hopelessly out-of-touch ideologues who are standing in the way of an otherwise excellent reform package on purely ideological grounds.

2) There is very close to zero chance of passing single-payer in the foreseeable future. It has the support of 85 reps in the House, just a handful of Senators and, unlike the public option, does not have the support of a popular president. It is not given a respectful airing by the corporate media. Given the influence of the disease care industry -- as I note on the front page today, "Over the past 10 years, the insurance industry has ranked second in dollars spent lobbying Congress and the White House ... The top spot is held by the pharmaceutical-and-health-products industry" -- there is nothing likely to change that equation anytime soon.

And, related to the above: we have a real crisis in health care, not a ginned up issue. The status quo is not only economically unsustainable, but comes with a huge human cost for millions of real, live Americans who lack access to health care outside of emergency room visits.

Public option advocates are right about this. So it would be nice if those supporting single-payer would acknowledge that fact, rather than accuse those who disagree of being hopelessly sold-out corporate apparatchiks who are standing in the way of an otherwise viable proposal to enact a single-payer health care system.

But having said that, there is one argument within this (energy-sapping and ultimately unproductive) debate that I will call out as being simply wrong.

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