Schiavo, Healthcare, and the Failure of Our Political System

What's so frustrating about the healthcare debate is that even though 76% of Americans want a public option, this is somehow deemed politically unviable. Never mind that the Republicans were crushed at every level electorally and that President Obama has a 63% approval rating. Even this tepid option--and it is tepid compared to what most other Western nations have--probably won't pass.

With that, I bring you Charles Pierce, who describes this as what it is, a complete failure of our political system:

But we no longer are a viable self-governing political commonwealth, and our representatives know that, and truly don't give a damn, and the people in the elite political media could care less. (Hey, Mark Halperin, go clean a bedpan, OK?) It is on health issues where the gulf separating the inside and out Beltway realities swallows up common sense and, in doing so, causes the most material damage. The Schiavo case was a garish and noisy example, but the idea that a Democratic president and a Democratic congress can't craft a health-reform package that contains a substantial public option that 75 percent of the people out there want because the Democrats are overly sensitive to intramural political imperatives is the Schiavo case writ unacceptably large. This is a political class responding only to itself, speaking its own language, operating by its own rules while real people get ground up in a system that everyone knows is a rigged game. Hell, at 75 percent, the president has enough "political cover" to put a single-payer option back "on the table." But he won't. Some corrupt old white man might yell at him.

And as Bill Maher notes, the real problem is that, on many issues, positions that either have pluralities or majorities (funny how most of those have a liberal bent), have no political champions:

Again, we rank-and-file Democrats did our jobs, now if only the elected Democrats would grow some balls and do theirs.

More like this

see more Lolcats and funny pictures A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter (and I encourage others to do the same) calling for a strong public option in whatever healthcare legislation is passed. In the letter, I described the frustration that many rank-and-file Democrats have towards their…
We are on record as favoring single-payer health care and taking certain things like vaccines out of the market system, but beyond that we don't do much health care politics here. But we have opinions, like everyone does, opinions formed by working for more than four decades within the health care…
Well, he didn't say it in Latin (that would have been very French. Or something). But this report is very encouraging: Democratic insiders say they are weighing several options to save health care reform, and one actually may be bold enough to revive a depressed, turned-off Democratic base: use…
From the archives: (18 April 2006) If Massachusetts were a physician, I'd have mixed feelings about visiting him or her. Sure, Dr. Massachusetts would be incredibly persistent and would do its best to make sure I left its office feeling better than when I arrived, but on the other hand if I had…

Do like I did, contact the DNC, DCCC, etc. and tell them the money spigot is being turned off until they pass:

1) Marriage Equality
2) Eliminated DADT and DOMA
3) Do a publicly funded health care system, call it what you want, Universal, single payer, whatever. We need to stop the insurance industries death grip.

The President, the House and Senate Dems - they all act as if the Republicans have successfully manipulated them into being terrified of liberalism.

Are you aware that Japan is in the top five healthy countries but does NOT have single payor system? A silly technicality, I know, but embarrasingly obvious.

The study is in Science and was published back during the Clinton administration. People don't seem to like their amazing discovery. ;-)

Bob Calder is wrong. Here in Tokyo, I am the single payer for a household of three (me, wife, son). As I am self-employed, I am obliged to join the government's national health insurance scheme (kokumin hoken) and to pay my income-based premium in ten installments. Collection is done by the local government. This is not a new system. It has operated like this for the 25+ years I have been a member.

By Tokyophile (not verified) on 21 Jun 2009 #permalink

I heard a great comment on Stephanie Miller today:
The only people that believe Republican talking points are Senate Democrats.

I heard a great comment on Stephanie Miller today:
The only people that believe Republican talking points are Senate Democrats.

*groan* OK so I'm wrong. I'm a single payer too since my wife doesn't work. Goodness do I ever wish I was multiple "payer."

BUT a "single payOR" system is one in which everybody in the country is enroled. Japan is not one of them.
N Ikegami The Economics of Health Care in Japan - Science, 258 (5082), 614-618. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1411572].

The "payors" are established by local governments and employers. Nobody can opt out so nobody is supposed to be uninsured.

I urge Mike to read it and distribute it to the other members of the community who are allowed to read it because they or their employers have paid for the privelege. ALthough the report describes one of the most equitable systems in any nation, what I find interesting is that since there are multiple payors, the single payor argument is falsified. Argument falsified. :-p

You got side tracked by Tokyophile's use of single payor and ignored a far more important portion of his post:

As I am self-employed, I am obliged to join the government's national health insurance scheme (kokumin hoken) and to pay my income-based premium in ten installments

That sure looks like a government run deal, in which he is required to enrolled
At this time, I've not seen an proposals wherein you will be required to participate in a government insurance -- you can keep your current medical insurance if you please.
I used to be agains the idea of requiring people to have insurance. However, health insurance companies have a good point that if they are going to be required to cover anyone, they will be at risk of people not bothering with insurance until after they have a medical problem. They won't be able to stay solvent if the healthy are not also in the system.