Sunday, February 24, 2008

The battle over health care reform

Paul Krugman wrote in the NYT that Senator Obama's plan will leave 22 million people uninsured (out of ~45 million as at present). He based this on a "new paper" by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. What irked me was that Krugman did not share a title or link of any sort; further, I figured if 22 million was the right number, the Clinton campaign would use this rather than the "15 million" figure bandied about.

So I did a web-search, and found a number of articles relevant to this discussion:
1. The Gruber paper appears to be this one. I have a PDF that, presumably, I can share for purely personal/non-commercial use. I will post a summary when I read it.
2. Here is another study that appears to suggest a plan mandating insurance ("Clinton") would leave about 6 million uninsured, while an opt-out plan ("Obama"?) would leave about 12 million uninsured (both inclusive of 3 million "including non-filers" uninsured.) Here is the summary where I got these numbers.
3. Here's a blog describing "Medicare for All"; the blogger also states that "universal mandate" plans are open to Republican attacks of the "Democrats are Big Brother" variety.

[My own view on mandated health insurance - like auto insurance - is that while one can opt not to drive, one can't (realistically) opt not to live. Thus, without that choice, mandates strike me - a foreigner - as unAmerican. This is essentially what the Republican attack on a nationally mandated health care plan will be, as explicitly stated in the blog above, and in the Jonathan Cohn article below.]

4. Professor Gruber apparently thinks Senator Edwards' plan was the best; but Senator Obama's plan still represents a vast improvement over the current system.
5. Here are a couple of fact-checker articles that discuss the numbers. From these articles, here is a story by Jonathan Cohn, which apparently is where the "15 million" number (as in "uninsured with Senator Obama's plan") comes from. This article in The Concord Monitor discusses the political battle as well as other "expert" opinions, and also sources the 15 million number to Professor Gruber.
6. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the '90s Clinton administration, thinks Senator Obama's plan will insure more people than Senator Clinton's plan.

That's a lot of information, hopefully intelligent! As always, caveat emptor - I cannot think for you!

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