Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Health Care forum blasts high costs

At Monday's forum on health care, moderator Dr. Jeffrey Solomon got the meeting started.

Surprise! High costs are the No. 1 problem in the U.S. health care environment. So said most people in the group your blogger moderated at the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s forum that will send up a report to the Obama-Biden transition team.

The event Monday evening at American Legion hall in Miami drew about 75 people, pretty close to capacity. Most were members of the party’s Democratic Executive Committee but with a strong representation from outside the DEC, especially people in the health field, from nurses to doctors and administrators and specialists in alternative care. Thanks to all for participating.

We were split into five groups to discuss a range of issues and eventually to report to the Obama-Biden Transition Team and to the incoming secretary of health and human services, former Sen. Tom Daschle. (Daschle was not in Miami, but rather at a forum in Indiana.)

Your blogger hopes to publish our full submission here on Miami-Dade Dems. For now, a few impressions from a lively time in my group.

· Participants easily agreed that high costs were the main problem in U.S. health care. Related but not identical was access to health care.

· Health insurers got a lot of criticism for contributing to high costs and to access problems.

· Most in the group favored moving to a system like Medicare for all.

· The role of employers in providing health insurance got a lot of debate.

· Alternative care such as acupuncture and homeopathy was strongly supported.

· Practically everyone has detailed knowledge of serious and specific problems in health care, often with poignant stories of problems of their own or their loved ones.

Overall moderator was DEC member Dr. Jeffrey Solomon, who has the unenviable task of wrapping it all up for the Transition Team. Good luck, Jeff!

And this corner says Thank you to Barack Obama for letting the public talk about this issue. Now, what do we think about climate change and vast coal-ash spills? About money in politics? About torture and military-based foreign policy? I’ll bet we’re going to be asked.

As to how to attack poverty, here’s a thought-provoking article in a recent Sunday NY Times magazine on how Mexico is leading the way. Yes, Mexico. And not a moment too soon for me. I was about to write off Mexico as a very large failed state right on the southern border.

Footnote: There was no sign of our meeting being packed by the insurance industry, as was speculated recently in a NY Times article. Or … did anyone hear suspiciously vociferous support for health insurers?

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