Friday, February 20, 2009

Universal coverage - Coverage for All, and All for Coverage

Uwe Reinhardt, the Princeton Health Economist guru, once observed people gathered in one room made most of the major U.S. health care decisions.

His remark sprang to mind when I read Robert Pear’s article in the February 19, 2009 New York Times, “Health Care Industry in Talks to Shape Policy.” Pear describes how 20 people gathered under the tutelage of Senator Edward Kennedy have been meeting regularly in one room to reach a consensus on how to achieve universal coverage.

The emerging consensus, according to Pear, is that every American – including the young invincibles, the unemployed between jobs, and others who choose not to carry insurance, and the poor, the newly arrived, and the sick, who may not be able to afford it – should be required to carry policies.

The only issues, all whoopers and possible stoppers, remaining to be resolved are:

--how to make care affordable to the uninsured,
--whether employers should be required to help buy insurance.

The people in the room represent:

• Aetna
• American Health Plans
• American Cancer Society
• Business Round Table
• Easter Seal
• National Federation of Independent Businesses
• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American
• United States Chamber of Commerce

Now if we can only get all twenty in the room.
To agree to cover all aplenty from womb to tomb,
To fund all possible situations,
To meet all high expectations,
Vroom! American Democracy will be in full bloom.

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