We all know John Edwards’ basic pitch, by this point. You can’t cut deals with powerful special interests; you can’t give them a place at the table. You’ve got to shut them out. From my inbox:
I don’t believe you can sit around a table with the drug companies, the insurance companies or the oil corporations, negotiate with them – and then hope they’ll just voluntarily give their power away. You can’t nice them to death – it doesn’t work.
They’ll only give their power away when we take it away.
So. If you were designing a health care plan that would really take away power from health insurers, what would you propose? Wouldn’t you propose a plan that eliminates the need to deal with health insurers? That is, wouldn’t you propose single payer? I would.
But no. Edwards basically proposes a modified Massachusetts model, like everyone else. He sticks with employer-based health care, he sticks with private insurers as a central part of the system — and he forces individuals to purchase health insurance from the very companies he apparently detests. Yes, there are subsidies, and some new public insurers to fill the gaps. But as far as I can tell, his plan will not work unless he can get the private health insurers to play ball.
This strikes me as a huge disconnect. If you’re going to run a campaign based on not sitting around the table and not negotiating with, say, “the insurance companies,” how is this plan going to work?
Here’s what the Globe has on this today:
Corporations might be convinced to help stop global warming, be fair in paying for health costs, and keep jobs in the United States. But they might need to be beaten up a little bit first, says John Edwards, who thinks he’s just the man for the fight.
Call me a cynic, or a corporate shill, or something, but I just don’t see that working. Nor, frankly, do I see that Edwards really has the courage of his convictions, if he’s not willing to propose the health care model that a lot of people already support, and that would truly achieve what he says he wants — health insurance for everyone, without giving the health insurers a place at the table.
What am I missing? And don’t answer that by saying that single payer is “not realistic” or “not politically feasible.” None of what Edwards is talking about is especially “realistic” or “feasible” — he’s talking about a radical overhaul of Washington. If that’s what he wants, single payer shouldn’t be such a big deal.