Rep. Anthony Weiner
Congressman from New York
Posted: September 7, 2009 11:23 PM
Giving Single-Payer a Second Look

As President Obama prepares to address the nation about his vision for health care reform, we should not overlook the last, best truly transformative change to our health care system: Medicare. We have been staring so intently at the lessons of 1993 that we may have forgotten the universal rule of successful lawmaking: “keep it simple.”

During the eleven town hall meetings I’ve held around my district, I’ve had some direct experience with the anxiety this debate has produced. Much of the fear comes from two groups: those who have Medicare and don’t want it changed and those who have never had a government-run reimbursement system like Medicare and are worried about the impact it will have on their quality of care.

In both cases, a calm, reasoned and vigorous defense of the American single-payer plan is just what the doctor ordered.

The truth is that the United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47% of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Understanding that these single-payer health programs are already a major part of our overall health care system should help us visualize what an actual public plan would look like. These institutions also provide health care to millions of satisfied customers in every community who would heartily agree that the government can build and run programs that work quite well.

Medicare also provides us with a case study in the hypocrisy of our Republican friends who have built their party on a 44-year record of undermining this popular program. And now their Chairman sees no irony in ripping “government run” healthcare while publishing an op-ed opposing changes to Medicare.

If Medicare has been such a success, why not extend it? Why not have single-payer plans for 55 year olds? Why not have one for young citizens who just left their parents or college coverage?

So far, the answers we hear to these questions have simply not been very convincing.

Anthony D. Weiner is a Democrat representing New York’s 9th Congressional District.

Rest of article at link above.

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