Barack Offers Plan for “Universal” Health Care

By Andre Banks May 31, 2007

In a rare moment of reporting actual news, recently covered the public intro of Barack’s "universal" health care plan. Here are the details:

Obama’s plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. Those who can’t afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers.

Obama didn’t mention that his plan would cost the federal treasury an estimated $50 billion to $65 billion a year once fully implemented.

So, I’m always thankful to hear what Barack’s audacity of hope means when forced to demand answers to real policy problems which, at this moment in history, seem to need something more akin to a miracle. But I’ve been concerned because many of Mr. O’s strategies seem to hedge their bets one step shy of real innovation. Let’s take this "universal" health business as an example. I use quotes here because, as the article points out, the policy isn’t necessarily universal in that people can still choose whether or not to buy private insurance at the subsidized rate. This poses at least two problems. First, the working poor, the real middle class in this country, always get screwed with these kinds of policies – premiums are always going up and the real value of each dollar earned is on the decline. Second, and most important, it leaves in place an insurance system that takes as its primary goal making $$$$. Whether it’s subsidized dollars from the Federal Treasury or straight outta your pocket, the insurance giants continue to work with the intent to get themselves rich and not to get you well. And don’t even get me started on the drug companies…. So I say to Barack, let’s shake things up. Make businesses cover their workers (all of them, including the documented and undocumented immigrants) or pay for the coverage. Help them to do that by reforming insurance laws so they aren’t getting fleeced and give company’s that play ball a tax cut that is actually deserved. Strengthen gov’t programs like Medicaid for the disproportionate number of Black people and other people of color who fall through the cracks so that you can finally require every single person to have some sort of quality coverage. But then if you did that, you’d start to sound a lot like John Edwards…. Which is distinctly better than sounding like Ms. Clinton on this issue, as she hasn’t entered a detailed proposal since the 90s (and we all know how that turned out…)