Daytoncare?

Source: National Public Radio, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
During the national health care reform debate, polls found 6o% of Americans and 63% of physicians supported having a publicly operated insurer in the competitive mix, along with private and not-for-profit insurers. But congressional Republicans wouldn’t allow Americans to have that choice available to them.

Could Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton right that wrong?

In Aaron Sinner’s Minnesota 2020 Hindsight blog, University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor Jim Hunt, M.D. was quoted saying that Minnesota theoretically could develop an insurance option that was publicly operated.

Theoretically.

Given the level of public support for a public option, and the potential for better, cheaper and more efficient care, why wouldn’t Governor Dayton – struggling to contain soaring health insurance premiums crushing Minnesota families and employers — develop a public option to compete with Minnesota’s health plans?

Two words: “House” and “Senate.” Minnesota Republicans control both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature, and it’s difficult to imagine they would ever authorize or fund a Daytoncare system.

But Vermont, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts or another Democratically controlled state governments may very well develop a public option. Vermont and California are already headed down this road, so get used to the melodious sound of “Browncare” and “Shumlincare.” (The only thing that seems certain at this stage is that Coloradans will never allow their Governor to enact a public option, because “Hickenloopercare” obviously would be much too humiliating to utter in public.)

State-level experimentation could show Americans that a public health coverage option leads to cheaper, better and more efficient health care that doesn’t bring about grandmotherocide, as has been the experience in other parts of the world. If that happens, democratic pressure would mount to give other states’ citizens such an option.

So, weary health reform debate spectators and ranters, the fight about a public option is hardly over. In fact, it’s just heating up.

– Loveland

10 thoughts on “Daytoncare?

  1. Newt says:

    I know what I’m talking about in this sector. A public health insurance option will fixes nothing. It’s a tactic in search of a strategy.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Newt, my friend, if a public health insurance option “fixes nothing” — that is, if a public option can’t deliver better and cheaper coverage than private insurers are currently able to do — why worry about a public option being in the competitive mix? If you’re correct that the public option “fixes nothing,” then consumer’s won’t choose the public option, correct?

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Former private health insurance senior executive Wendell Potter:

    “They (the health insurance industry) are trying to make you worry and fear a government bureaucrat being between you and your doctor. What you have now is a corporate bureaucrat between you and your doctor… Because (a public option) could be administered more efficiently, the private insurers would have to operate more efficiently.”

    1. Gary Pettis says:

      If Minnesota gets into running a Healthcare organization, why stop there? We could start a state-operated Health Club chain called Go-Fit Gopher. Membership dues could be tax deductible. For every pound a citizen lifts within a pre-agreed to time, there could be a $2.00 tax credit. Similar tax-credits could be offered for attending Yoga or Zumba classes. The big bonus credits could come from dramatic weight loss based on “X” going to “Y weight” to attain the ideal height and weight standard.

      Cardio workouts could earn per minute credits of a nickel per minute. Tri-athletes wouldn’t have to pay any state taxes at all. We’d honor them like they were returning victorious Roman generals.

      Big Brother seems to be more of an active gym guy compared to someone who sits on the couch, watches C-SPAN all day and opens yet another bag of potato chips. Plus, spending money on the proactive approach would be the better investment.

      In the crazy logic world of allowing government to create and fund a public entity to compete with private-sector companies, should we assume that this entity be charged with (1) generating a profit to offset taxes; (2) operating as a non-profit organization; or (3) creating a bureaucracy in such a way that all losses are covered by tax dollars?

      History has proven number three is usually the case.

      If state government wants to offer health insurance to the poor or difficult to insure, why not contract the service out to an organization that has the people, infrastructure and service-delivery systems in place? Negotiate competitive rates; and offer a litany of services that match the demographics of this insured segment–for better and cheaper coverage compared to present options.

      The public option could be vended out. What a concept.

      Plus, under Daytoncare, it would be impossible to have mandated coverage because Minnesota, like all states, would not have the wherewithal and gumption to police citizens to make sure they have the required coverage.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        It always cracks me up when opponents of the public option wring their hands about “bureaucracy.”

        Medicare has 3% overhead, compared to 15%-25% overhead at HMOs. Single-payer plans in Canada have an overhead of about 1%. (Source: Physicians for a National Health Program) We have a bureaucracy problem alright, but it’s more a problem of redundant corporate bureaucracy than government bureaucracy.

        http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-faq

  3. Mrs. Fay says:

    I’m all for a public option if it’s truly public. In Maine we tried a government sponsored program called “Dirigo”. The Republican Governor, House and Senate are now dismantling it. I believe it was doomed to fail because it was a private insurance product (Anthem) that was administered publicly. Anthem (Wellpoint) is practically the only health insurer in ME and because the funding mechanism was based on government determined savings throughout the system, it never ended up funding itself enough to lower premiums for the people who it was supposed to help.
    We need to figure out where the seed money will come from, and enough people have to be able to afford it and and and…

    1. Gary Pettis says:

      Mrs. Fay brings up a good point. In Maine, Anthem (Wellpoint) has a virtual monopoly on the state’s healthcare insurance offering. Why couldn’t other companies from other states competitively bid on Dirigo.

      Oh yeah! Some Democrats are historically against the cross-state selling of health insurance from out-state carriers.

      From a New York Times story:

      “Because health insurance is regulated in each state, insurers must be licensed in the state where they sell policies, a hurdle that critics say limits the number of insurance companies competing in a given state. Experts agree that lack of competition is one reason premiums can be so expensive.”

      Here’s the link to “Let Health Insurance Cross State Lines, Some Say”:

      http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/let-health-insurance-cross-state-lines-some-say/

      1. Mrs. Fay says:

        The funny part is that no other companies bid on it. According to our current legislature, Maine’s coverage requirements are too costly…mental health coverage, maternity care, women’s health (gasp!) care…so that’s why no other companies are in this market. They passed a bill last session that will indeed allow folks to buys across state lines (like in NH where there is no mandatory coverage for many of these issues) and allows Anthem to kick people with pre-exisitng conditions off their current policies and into high-risk pools. Sound fair?

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