PNHP on Bradley health care plan
Source Dave Anderson
Date 99/10/31/22:51

(USA Today, September 30, 1999)

Bradley rehashes stale ideas

By David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler

Former senator Bill Bradley's health plan would deliver
billions to insurance companies and HMOs. But it won't
deliver the universal health care that Americans deserve.

For 15 years, we and 8,000 colleagues in Physicians for
a National Health Program have pushed for nonprofit
national health insurance. The need for change grows each
day. The number of uninsured has increased by 6 million
since President Clinton took office. Millions more have
such poor coverage that a serious illness would bankrupt
him. HMO patients are hurried out of hospitals and
worried that care will be denied when they're sickest and
need it most. Seniors can't afford drugs, and hundreds of
thousands have been dumped by profit-hungry HMOs. As
health costs rise, reaching over a trillion dollars this
year, $250 billion goes to health-care bureaucracy and

Yet Bradley refuses to take on the greedy insurance
companies, HMOs, hospitals and doctors responsible for
this mess. Instead, he would hand HMOs $193 billion from
Medicaid and $65 billion in new tax dollars to cover some
of the poor and near-poor.

The new tax subsidies would tempt employers to eliminate
health benefits for lower-income employees. And Bradley
would ask most uninsured workers to ante up for their own
coverage, assuring that tens of millions would remain
uninsured. As for children, he would force cash-strapped
parents to buy private coverage, offering inadequate
subsidies for working families and generous tax breaks
for the wealthy.

In contrast, national health insurance would give every
American an insurance card, good at any doctor or
hospital. It would eliminate insurance companies and HMO
bureaucracy, saving the 15 cents of every premium dollar
they take for profit and overhead. We'd save $150 billion
annually on paperwork, according to the Congressional
Budget Office-enough to cover all of the uninsured,
eliminate HMO restrictions, improve coverage for millions
and provide free drug coverage for all seniors.

Polls show that most Americans favor such reform. But few
politicians besides Sen. Bulworth, Warren Beatty's
fictional anti-hero, have the guts to push for it.

Bradley's plan would just add money without cutting
waste. He would duplicate past reforms that have already
failed: for example, former governor Michael Dukakis'
inept Massachusetts health plan that promised universal
coverage in 1988, but saw the number of uninsured in the
state double by 1998. Similar reforms in Washington and
Minnesota, as well as the federal Kennedy-Kassebaum and
CHIP legislation have failed to cut the number of

Bradley promises straight talk, fresh ideas and the
courage to take on vested interests. But his health plan
recycles ideas floated by Al Gore and, before him,
Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. The American people will
have to look elsewhere for health-care leadership. We
need more Bulworth and less bull.

Drs. David U. Himmelstein, M.D., and Steffie Woolhandler,
M.D., are co-founders of Physicians for a National Health

[View the list]

InternetBoard v1.0
Copyright (c) 1998, Joongpil Cho