Saturday, May 30, 2009

Howard Dean: "Give people choices of health insurance"

Howard Dean jokes with Johnie Hammond, left and Susie Petra, both of Ames, after speaking at a town-hall meeting at First Unitarian Church in Des Moines on Thursday.

Des Moines Register:
Howard Dean was stumping again in Iowa on Thursday, but this time the former presidential candidate was campaigning for public health insurance.
The former Vermont governor came to Des Moines to demand that Congress let consumers buy into a government health plan as an option to private insurance.

"Give the American people the choice of what they would like to do," he told about 200 people at First Unitarian Church.

Dean was a nearly constant presence in Iowa five years ago, when he vied for the Democratic presidential nomination. After that campaign ended, he became the party's national chairman. He said he does not intend to run for office again.

The public-insurance plan he supports is one of the most controversial ideas being debated as Congress tries to pass a sweeping health-reform bill. Opponents, including many insurance executives, predict a government plan would present unfair competition that would drive private insurers out of business.

Dean said critics are trying to scare Americans into opposing President Barack Obama's ideas.

"If you want to attack any kind of health-care reform, you're going to say things like, 'The government's going to take over your choice of doctor. The government's going to tell you what you can and can't do. The government's going to ration your care.' " Dean said. "...None of it's true. But it's effective."

Dean, who is a physician, said Obama has wisely assured people that they can keep their private insurance if they like it.

Dean said he would prefer the nation adopt a "single-payer" system, in which everyone would be covered by Medicare or a similar plan. He said that idea would not pass, but giving people the option of buying into a public plan would be a viable alternative.

Afterward, Dean said the prospect of a public plan should not scare people who work in the insurance industry. Many Americans would continue to buy private coverage, either as their sole insurance or as a supplement to public coverage, he said.

"I don't think the insurance companies are going to be put out of business anytime soon," he said. "These are smart, resourceful people that run these companies, and they're going to find ways to make money."
Dean said Democrats controlling Congress should not compromise too much in trying to pick up Republican support for health reform.

"Look, we want to work with people who want to work with us," he said. "But there are a lot of people who don't."

No comments: