Last updated on 2011.06.05
Republicans are cooing over Rep. Paul Ryan's "budget," a utterly unserious plan based on flim-flam math that doubles the national debt while hammering low-income folks and destroys Medicare and Medicaid. (As an afterthought, the Ryan plan also puts Kristi Noem and other GOP dissemblers in the awkward flip-flop of embracing exactly the PPACA Medicare cost controls that last year were fodder for their election season scare tactics.)
Meanwhile, the Vermont Legislature is showing us the path to true health care reform. Rather than destroying Medicare by voucher and throwing senior citizens to the private insurance death panels, Vermont is affirming the American commitment to community with a bill that would create a statewide single-payer health insurance program to cover all Vermonters by 2017.
The bill has passed the Vermont House; it passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee yesterday 5&ndash0. If it makes it through two more committees and the full Senate intact, Governor Peter Shumlin will sign it. Then, in an interesting twist, it will hinge on permission from Washington to opt out of the federal health reform law. (I eagerly await the spectacle of Tea Party Republicans trying to use PPACA to prevent Vermont from one-upping ObamaCare with a single-payer system.)
Vermont is leading the way toward real health insurance reform that fulfills the American ideals of community, generosity, and human dignity. Health care isn't a matter of commerce; it's a right better provided by all of us working together through our government than through profit-seeking private insurers. Go, Vermont!
Bonus Encouragement: As Robert Reich points out, Medicare isn't the problem; it's the solution.
Update 12:20 CDT: The Ryan budget isn't serious at all. It is as Paul Krugman describes it, a "sick joke... pure fantasy." Krugman also notes that when the government uses its purchasing power properly, as it does in the Department of Veterans Affairs and as President Obama proposes for Medicare drug purchases, we can save 40% over purchases through private plans like the current system and like the further privatization Rep. Ryan proposes.