MEDICARE WOES….Are George Bush and the Republicans in trouble now? Max says: just wait until the new Medicare drug benefit takes effect.

By the way, this reminds me. If we’re ever going to sell America on national healthcare ? and it’s going to take a while to do this ? I think the most important thing we can do is take a page out of the conservative playbook and hammer on choice. Whatever the details of the plan are, it needs to guarantee that you get to choose your doctor. You (and your doctor) get to choose your treatment. You (and your doctor) get to choose which medications are best for you. Under any decent plan, you’d have more choice than most people do now, and that’s a key selling point.

After all, how much choice do you have today? I live in a pretty populous area, but even so, my plan restricts which doctors I can see, which medical groups I can sign up with, which hospitals I’m allowed to go to, and which specialists I can consult with ? most of them 20 miles away in Santa Ana even though there are hundreds available within a few miles of my home. I sure wish I had more control over this stuff, but I don’t. I’m limited to what my particular plan allows. A national healthcare plan would allow me much greater choice and much greater flexibility. Sign me up!

UPDATE: Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow writes that there are two distinct reactions from people when he starts writing about healthcare issues:

First, those of you who felt your interest sag. You have good health insurance at work ? or through a spouse, a parent or Medicare.

And second, those who felt your stomachs knot. You are uninsured or on the verge of it ? and you’re worried sick about getting sick.

…. [Healthcare is handled by the government] in every other developed nation. And it’s not as foreign as it sounds. We already have it here, and I have already mentioned it ? Medicare.

Good old Medicare. It may not be perfect, but older Americans look forward to the day they qualify for it. And Dr. Frankel sees no reason why such a national health plan can’t be expanded to all citizens, not just seniors.

If nothing else, the employer-based, private-insurance system offends Dr. Frankel for its inefficiency. He said about 25 percent of all premiums go to pay administrative costs. With Medicare, it’s 3 percent.

I’m not sure that “Medicare for all” is the best answer, but it’s a start. And Blow is right: most people do look forward to the day they qualify for Medicare. If national healthcare is such an abomination, why is that?

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