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While doing research for a CNN.com Live appearance on health care reform and the Senate, I collated a series of helpful links. I am a proponent of single payer reform, but as has been reported, it's just off the table on Capitol Hill. Obama himself said, "if he could start from scratch, single-payer might make sense—the same thing he said during the campaign." But apparently, single payer is off the table. Without a public option, I don't see how health reform can last and really make change. Mandating everyone to get insurance doesn't solve the problem that just having insurance doesn't really make things better! After all, writes Robert Kuttner,

"The U.S. health care system is the most expensive and least cost-effective in the advanced world mainly because private insurance companies waste about 25 cents on the premium dollar on claims, profits, administration, and marketing. They have no serious financial incentives to emphasize prevention, and every possible incentive to avoid sick people. Doctors and hospitals, meanwhile, make their money from increasing costs."

Some sort of "public option"--a public health insurance plan (a la Medicare) that competes with private plans-- is on the table, but whose version? See here for details. And visit Montanansforsinglepayer.org to see how Montanans are influencing their very influential Senator, Max Baucus.

Bill Moyers Journal has an excellent episode featuring Physicians for a National Health Program's Himmelstein and Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on McAllen, TX, the country's most expensive place for health care. Why?

CJR: Single Payer Advocates Finally Get Their Say

Robert Reich: How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, And What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do

Lessons from Massachusetts: CJR

However, the "Dutch Model" of reform, which combined private and public options, is appealing to those who oppose single payer but demand reform. Maggie Mahar covers it here. I like this part, "Insurers Must Take All Applicants: Individuals Must Buy Insurance: But it would be wrong to say that the Dutch health care system is some sort of conservative utopia where the invisible hand of the market reigns.  Just as in Dr. Emanuel’s plan, insurers operate under many regulations and restrictions. Most importantly, “they are legally obliged to accept each applicant for basic insurance” and they cannot charge someone more because of pre-existing conditions."

Health reform is overwhelming in its details. I'm no wonk, but I'm trying to learn as much as I can about this hugely important change. Where do you go for information about health reform and how it affects your family?

You can join Obama's Health Care Reform organizing team here


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