Overhauling the health care system is high on the President’s list of to-dos. But it has become a political hot potato. Why are so many people so excited about this policy issue?
We talk with Howard Dean, MD, about his prescription for real health care reform, and we get a very different perspective from Joseph Antos, PhD, of the American Enterprise Institute. Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, helps us make sense of all the shouting and answers listener questions.
Guests: Joseph Antos, PhD, Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Howard Dean, MD, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President (2004); former governor of Vermont (6 terms). He is the author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real HealthCare Reform: How We Can Achieve Affordable Medical Care for Every American and Make our Jobs Safer.
Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy & Management at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of The Political Life of Medicare.
The photo is of Dr. Oberlander.

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  1. Ron K.

    This was a great show! Thanks, Joe and Terry, for bringing some sense to the public information stream on the need and potential methods for overhauling health-care in the U.S. Maybe it will help eliminate the false information the opposition is propagating to frighten people into resisting reform and thereby playing into the hands of the profiteers who will continue to exploit the absence of reform to our individual and collective detriment.
    There was a very enlightening political cartoon in a recent Raleigh (NC) News & Observer that showed a senior citizen holding two signs – the sign in his right hand says something like, “Keep government out of health care,” and the sign in his left hand, “Keep your hands off my Medicare”! Maybe it is time we let our right hand know what the left hand is doing. The potential pun of the metaphor here is also informative! I especially appreciated Dr. Oberlander’s calm, reasoned responses to some very good questions. Ron

  2. CLS

    If the agenda is simply to provide public option health care for the uninsured, they could simply amend existing Medicaid legislation, raising the income requirement to qualify for government coverage.
    The single-payer system in Canada with a total population of only 33,000,000 is not feasible with our much larger population.
    My 82 year old mother was advised by her doctor that if it’s passed, he and many of his colleagues will retire rather than be hamstrung by the proposed system.
    Will there be enough qualified physicians in other countries willing to emigrate here to cover the deficit of doctors?

  3. TEM

    HAHA! The government does things so well…..I am sorry, but there are so many other ways to help people get health care besides the “government” (us) mandating and paying for it. My Dad, 82, wanted to go see a Dr., but the Dr would not accept anymore Medicare patients, due to slow, low pay, so he offered to pay cash. Dr. says that is against the rules and he would lose his practice! Come on! Wake up people. I won’t even go to the tort reform part….

  4. FVM

    If we think of our health system as a pie, about 83% of our population gets all the pie, and 17% get nothing, or the emergency room. Of the 83%, the rich get all the good stuff, and many nibble on a tough crust.
    Reform amounts to increasing the size of the pie, redistributing the contents, and giving everyone a bite.
    While eliminating excess profits of some insurers/providers and securing higher efficiency may cover some of the cost, there is no way to reformulate a better pie without paying for it, either through debt or some form of taxation. There is never an improvement of quality in any sphere without sacrifice.
    Part of superior health systems in other countries is often the use of some form of value added tax. There needs to be more discussion of how we can get the public to accept the reality of financial sacrifice, for all of us.

  5. jan

    Today’s shows was one of the best you’ve had in the many years I’ve been listening (WHAD Delafield, Milwaukee, Wis). Thank you for the great job
    you do & for your excellent guests. Be well!

  6. A. Evans

    Thank you so much for devoting a show to this topic. You are a trusted source of information on health care and your show helped bring some sanity to discussion of this very important topic.

  7. walter w.

    Re your radio program August 22. Congress cannot pass a meaningful health-care bill. The contributions members receive from lobbyists for their re-election campaigns produce sections in the bills enacted that are favorable to the clients the lobbyists represent. Some caller on your show today remarked that Taiwan studied the health-care regulations in many countries before drafting their own. Check Public Radio archives the past 6 months for an investigation of the German system.
    To me it appears to be a system that would work effectively in the U.S. The premium you pay is based on annual income. More wealthy citizens pay to subsidize poorer citizens as part of their monthly premium. As I understand it you purchase a basic plan from an insurance company. Profit for the insurance company is limited on the basic plan. If you purchase extras to the basic plan, the insurance companies are allowed a higher profit on these extra. Evidently the plan in Germany has been in effect for years after WWII.
    The public radio article interviewed U.S. citizens who now live in Germany and they liked the Germany systems much better that our existing systems. President Obama should have appointed a commission of say five responsible U.S. citizens to investigate regulations in other industrial countries and draft a plan based on the “best of the rest” for Congress to enact. With his voter mandate from the past election he should be able to force Congress to enact the plan drafted by this commission. Everything the Congress gets involved in usually turns in to a debacle.

  8. Cynthia Evans

    There’s not a doubt in my mind that the United States will someday offer a great public option and a single payer health-care plan, so that all Americans can feel safe and healthy and free to go forth (and multiply, or rebuild our economy, or whatever they’d like.) There’s not a doubt in my mind that health-care coverage should never be attached to employment.
    It shocks me that most Americans forget that until the 1960’s, hospitals did not exist to make a profit. They existed to take care of sick people, pay their hardworking doctors and sustain the physical building that housed them. I appreciated the chance to ask my question today on the show, regarding the possibility of opening the affordable health-care plan already in place for federal employees to all, instead of trying to design a new one “just like it” as well lowering the age for Medicare.
    Would the members of the House and Senate be willing to rise to a challenge and voluntarily “give up” health-care benefits, as they examine Obama’s bill and reject or accept this re-design? That way, they could personally benefit from the same knowledge the rest of us have, regarding the staggering costs and demoralizing experience of navigating this failing system.

  9. Anonymous

    Health care reform can simpley be done by increaseing the number of doctors and health care workers. That should be the only role of goverment in this by increasing education funding for these fields and keeping these costs down doctors pay would not have to be so high to off set this. And having many doctors will increase competition and drive down costs. I still remember the day when doctors made house calls and it only cost $5!

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