Medicare: Good Enough

I wouldn’t want to be Senator Bill Nelson of Florida these days, or one of those nice young aides who answer his phones. After Humana frightened its Medicare Advantage partners with a letter suggesting their benefits would be threatened by Medicare reforms, Senator Nelson’s office was flooded with anxious calls.  You can tell when an issue really hits home in America.  We buzz with every kind of information and misinformation.  It’s the democratic process and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But it hasn’t been easy to find well-reasoned, non-partisan arguments on the volatile subject of health care reform, and what often filters down into lay language can be truly scary.  Take a sampling from the postings on your own Facebook page.  You may be shocked at the misinformed, if not completely irrational, positions taken by people from whom you might expect better.

We’ve been to Senator Nelson’s office in West Palm Beach to express support for single payer (the option advocated by Physicians for a National Health Program) and we’ve stood on the sidewalk holding a sign and waving to passing cars.  As Medicare recipients with an AARP  Medigap policy, we already enjoy benefits most Americans envy.  Our kids and younger friends would love to have what we have, and we think they should.  With Medicare, we get health care that is as good as it gets south of the Canadian border.   It’s good enough, and so are the health care systems in Canada, the UK and any number of other countries where health care is considered a basic right.  Good enough, not perfect.

I’m no expert on health care reform, but I know enough to recognize politically-motivated malarkey when I see it.  And I know a sound argument when I encounter one:  Here are two articles well worth your time and attention:

Atul Gawande’s The Cost Conundrum, The New Yorker, June 1, 2009, offers a model system in a Texas town.  Dr. Gawande’s book Better is also excellent.

Theodore Roszak, Medicare for All, Los Angeles Times, September 21, 2009 makes a compelling argument based on his own recent experiences with Medicare.  The Making of an Elder Culture is Theodore Roszak’s latest book.

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