Montana: How the local press views Max Baucus and single payer (you may be surprised)
Thanks to DCblogger [many, many thanks] we all know that Chuck Grassley and Max Baucus are members of the Senate Finance Committee, and will therefore have some say in what happens to our efforts to get HR 676 passed.
We also know, again thanks to DCb, that the Des Moines [Iowa, home state of Grassley] Register endorses single payer. Yay! Which prompted me, just out of curiosity, to go looking for what the Montana [home state of Max Baucus] papers are saying about single payer. I found this article by honest, intelligent reporter Mike Dennison. My favorite quotes from the article --
As I said earlier, it is not a national plan that simplifies things. It takes our fragmented, expensive system — the most expensive in the world, mind you — and plops another mishmash of new rules, regulations and bureaucracy on top of it, all in the name of maintaining the private, for-profit insurance market.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Yes, the Baucus plan has some good aspects. But it seems to bend over backwards to preserve much of the status quo — a status quo that just about everyone agrees is badly broken.
And when it comes to real reforms, like a national health care plan with one payer or one system, Baucus says that is “off the table,” because it’s “not politically feasible.”
Why? We’ll look at that question Tuesday.
So, Tuesday got here, and I kept checking helenair.com, looking for the promised follow-up, but no luck. No hard feelings, though. Montana's having a bit of trouble with storm-related power outages, and while I just scratch my head and furrow my brow and ask what is this ice and snow of which you speak?, as a long-time resident of Hurricane Alley, I can most definitely relate to storms and power outages.
It did finally dawn on me to check the websites of other Montana papers, and sure enough, Mike Dennison, intrepid hero reporter, appears to write for the company that owns several Montana papers, and the Billings Gazette has both installments [same articles, different titles].
Part I -- Baucus plan falls short of universal coverage [quoted above], and
Part II -- Why is single-payer health reform not viable? Some excerpts:
Top Democrats who will be deciding policy in America in 2009, including Baucus and President-elect Barack Obama, say single-payer is "not politically feasible," because the public won't strongly support it.
What they really mean is that when it comes to health care reform, they don't want a political fight with some of the nation's most powerful financial interests, which have the resources and the motivation to turn public opinion against meaningful reforms.
These interests include the health insurance industry, pharmaceutical drug companies, some hospitals, highly paid medical specialists, medical suppliers and others who now profit handsomely from our current system - and who could no longer command those profits under a single-payer system or an alternative form of a national health plan.
"The only reason it's not on the table is because there is a belief that it's not politically viable," [Michael Lightly, director of public policy for California Nurses Association] said. "That is a miscalculation in our view. We believe that a real policy debate means single-payer must be a part of that debate."
Lightly also said that even the mild reforms proposed by Baucus and Obama are going to face a political fight from insurers and other interests.
If you're going to have a fight, why not fight over something worth winning? he asks.
In this second article Dennison does a good job of describing single payer, mentions T.R. Reid, John Conyers, HR 676, the 93 cosponsors of HR 676, and that nearly 500 unions are endorsing HR 676.
This does not mean that any Montana papers have endorsed, or will endorse, single payer, but we do know they've got at least one good reporter. If you'd like to express your appreciation, his contact information [from the article]: Gazette State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-525-4920 or 406-447-4068.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to pile on, that's me, the anonymous one snarking about pizza and broken legs, here.